Apex court concerned over phone tapping

February 11th, 2011 - 9:18 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) What if the Indian Army chief’s telephone was tapped by a foreign country? The Supreme Court Friday posed this question while voicing serious concern over the possibility of telephones of key government functionaries getting tapped on the basis of forged documents.”Suppose there is an influential person who manages to get a letter on the interception of the telephone of an important person and get the call directed to an undesirable person. What will be the consequence of such an interception?” asked Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly.

Pointing to a worst case scenario, the court observed: “If a person gets the number of the Chief of Army Staff and gives it to a terrorist organization and with the help of a service provider diverts the call to a foreign country and gets all information, then what will happen?”

The observations came in the wake of the hearing of an application by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) seeking vacation of the court’s 2006 order restraining the media from publishing former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh’s tapes based on unauthorized interception of his telephones — on the strength of forged documents.

The court expressed amazement that officials of a service operator could allow the interception of the telephones on the basis of letters that were full of glaring spelling and grammatical mistakes.

The court wondered if officials who had dealt with genuine communications from Delhi Police and Delhi government could distinguish between genuine and fake communications.

Apparently piqued over the court’s observation implying that even the central government was in league with others, Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh told the court that she represented the Union of India and was present in the court to answer any query by the court.

She objected to the government being branded as being in league with others.

Appearing for CPIL, senior counsel Prashant Bhushan urged the court to vacate its order restraining the media from publishing the Amar Singh tapes.

He said the tapes largely concerned influence peddling in the governance of the country that had a direct bearing on the lives of people.

He said the restrain order was against the constitutional rights of the people to the right to information.

He referred to the judgment of the apex court and of the federal court of America which said that national interest and democracy could only be strengthened by informed citizenry.

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