Amar Singh’s phone tapped on official directions: Reliance Infocomm

Monday, February 14, 2011

NEW DELHI - Reliance Infocomm Monday told the Supreme Court that whatever wiretap it had carried out on Rajya Sabha member and former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh’s telephone was done strictly on the directions of Delhi Police.

The court was told that Amar Singh’s telephone tapping was done in a bona fide manner.

The 21-page affidavit of Col. (Retd) A.K. Sachdeva, a nodal officer with Reliance Communication, said under the prescribed procedures, once the company receives directions from the law enforcement agencies, it is duty-bound to act immediately in public and national interest.

Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani appeared for Reliance Communication.

Referring to adverse observations of the apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly in the course of the last hearing, the affidavit said that when a request for interception is received, the service provider is duty bound to comply with the request immediately and there was no provision/rule under which the service provider could send back the request by pointing out such mistakes since the requests received were of urgent nature and in national interest.

Postponing compliance (of request by law enforcement agencies) on the grounds of inconsequential mistakes like spelling errors may conceivably lead to a serious terrorist attack and the blame may fall on us, the affidavit said.

It is impossible for a service provider to devise a practice by which the service provider postpones the interception on the grounds of spelling mistakes, especially in view of the request being for immediate action for safety of general public at large and in the interest of the nation, the affidavit added.

It further said that under the conditions of licence, the service provider was required to provide assistance to law enforcement agencies (LEA), including police, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Intelligence Bureau and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.

The affidavit said it was not for the first time that spelling and other inaccuracies were noted in the communications from the Delhi government and Delhi Police. Earlier too in the letters and mails by the authorities for genuine interception, there were both grammatical and spelling mistakes, the affidavit read.

The affidavit said that Reliance Communication does have a technology in its system to record the conversation but there is no provision in the rules for the service provider to record the conversation and submit the same to the LEA.

The affidavit said that in 2005, in Delhi service area, there were 3,588 interceptions and between 2006-2010 there were 1.51 lakh monitoring and interceptions.

The affidavit was filed in the course of the hearing of an application by the Centre For Public Interest Litigation seeking that all tapped conversations of Amar Singh that concern the country’s governance should be put in public domain.

In the last hearing, the court had asked Reliance communication why it had tapped Amar Singh’s phone when it was obvious that the letter requesting this was fabricated as it had several spelling and grammatical mistakes.

Reliance Communication told the court that it had invested Rs.75,000 crore in the entire network and had 125 million subscribers in the country, thereby making it India’s second largest telecom service provider.

Delhi Police and the central government said they wanted to file a rejoinder to the Reliance Infocomm affidavit. The case will come up for hearing March 8.

Filed under: Court, Immigration

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