Leaking to media distorted version of document

State Police Chief K.S. Balasubramanian has issued a notice to Biju Salim, a sub inspector of police charged with leaking to the media the “distorted” version of a “classified” police document, asking him to show cause why he should not be dismissed from service.

The “leaked document” had revealed in public domain a purported quest by the State police intelligence to find out the e-mail contacts and Internet communication patterns of as many as 268 persons.

A Malayalam weekly, which claimed to be in possession of the questionable document, stated that most of the citizens “marked out for surveillance” belonged to a particular minority community.

The news report, which was subsequently echoed by a television news channel, indirectly accused the State law enforcement of religious profiling and put the United Democratic Front (UDF) government at the centre of a stormy political controversy in 2013.

Police stand

The police stand on the issue was that the directive was a “routine one” issued to “equate or match” the e-mail addresses of persons of varying importance to the State polity with their identity in the real world.

They likened the effort to matching cell phone numbers with the address and identity of their users or on spot verification of residential addresses.

The police also maintained that e-mail service providers were loath to part with the passwords and communication history of its account holders, unless law enforcers were equipped with specific court orders (subpoenas).

The police had also denied that they had sought to acquire through illegal short-cuts the password of any citizen nor attempted to trespass or hack into their accounts.

A Crime Branch team led by Superintendent of Police Jolly Cherian and Dy.SP K. Radhakrishna Pillai later told a court that Biju had tampered with the document to make it appear as if the police were snooping on the members of a particular community.

The agency subsequently charged Biju with conspiracy, forgery, and violation of his oath of police service and official secrets act.

They also arrested a homoeopathy medical officer P. A. Dashtaker and a lawyer S. Shanawaz on the charges of aiding Biju in the alleged crime.