Illegal and unlawful telephone tapping in India has become a major nuisance. In the absence of a lawful interception law in India, telephone tapping is happening in an unregulated manner in India. There is a dire need to formulate dedicated privacy law and telephone tapping law of India as soon as possible in these circumstances. Law enforcement agencies are conducting e-surveillance and phone tapping without any parliamentary regulations and oversight.
Even intelligence agencies of India need parliamentary oversight so that there is a balance between the law enforcement and national security requirements on the one hand and civil liberties of Indians on the other. Similarly, the intelligence infrastructure of India needs transparency and strengthening.
It has now been reported that the Himachal Pradesh vigilance bureau (VB) would recommend action against some officials who have been suspected of departmental misdemeanor in the phone tapping case. The VB has already sought prosecution sanction against former DGP I D Bhandari in the phone tapping case.
Bhandari has already clarified that there was no telephone tapping or bugging under him during the BJP regime. However, a senior VB official, requesting anonymity, said that investigation found Bhandari responsible for illegal tapping of phones as records were not destroyed in the given time and copies of records were found stored in an almirah.
Sources said that vigilance officials in the draft chargesheet prepared in the case have also given clean chit to then inspector general (IG) of CID by describing him as a mere rubber stamp, who only signed letters but never stepped inside the technical cell where phones were being tapped. Sources, however, added that the IG could face departmental inquiry for not dispensing his duty properly.
Other junior-level officers who had tapped phones were not found involved in the crime on the ground that they only obeyed orders of then ADGP (CID) I D Bhandari. Officials said that as per the relevant Act, phone tapping could be ordered only by an IG-level officer or those above him.
Sources said that in some cases permission to tap phones was sought without furnishing complete details and on vague addresses. Officials claimed that investigation concluded that phones were tapped at the behest of then ADGP (CID) I D Bhandari. Sources said that as the home department had no direct role to play in it, neither the home secretary nor the then home minister were included in the chargesheet as nothing criminal was found on their part.
This is another incidence where phone tapping has been conducted in an illegal manner due to lax and illegal laws of India. Time has come to change these draconian and archaic laws as soon as possible.