Phone-tapping violates constitutional guarantees: BJP

April 29th, 2010 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, April 29 (IANS) Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley Thursday slammed the ruling UPA over the alleged phone-tapping, saying the government has decided to buy sophisticated tapping equipment “which does not respect the constitution”, and called for a parliamentary panel to examine the issue.
“If you have equipment that can be misused, and there is mismatch between technology and guarantees enshrined in the constitution, it needs to be discussed by a body of parliament, such as JPC (joint parliamentary committee),” Jaitley said, initiating the discussion on phone tapping in the Rajya Sabha.

The Leader of Opposition in the upper house said that as per law, the home secretary could give permission to six central agencies to tap a specific phone number after listing the appropriate reasons. The state home secretary could give a similar permission to the state police.

Jaitley said that the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) had purchased sophisticated technology which was mobile and could “sweep” phone conversations not just from a specific number but also within a diameter of two kilometres.

“The government of India has decided to buy equipment which does not respect the constitution,” he said.

Referring to Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s clarification, Jaitley said it was a “limited denial”. “The government did not deny that phone tapping had happened, but that it did not give permission,” he said.

Jaitley said there was “too much coincidence” that the conversations recorded were of immediate use to the United Progressive Alliance government.

He noted that the intelligence agencies seemed to be more active in accumulating political intelligence.

“The larger question is of the power of the government, as the investigative arms of government are being grossly misused,” he added.

On reports of the phone-tapping of a senior telecom lobbyist, Jaitley said it led to questions if the Indian democracy should allow these kinds of lobbyists.

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