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Updated: February 15, 2011 02:50 IST

Errors won't make a letter suspect, Reliance Infocomm tells court

J. Venkatesan
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Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infocomm has refuted allegations that it had illegally tapped former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh’s phone. File photo
Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infocomm has refuted allegations that it had illegally tapped former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh’s phone. File photo

Anil Ambani's Reliance Infocomm said in the Supreme Court on Monday that it had tapped the telephone of the former Samajwadi Party leader, Amar Singh, on the request of the Delhi Police and its action was bona fide.

Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the company, presented an affidavit to a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly, which is hearing Mr. Singh's writ petition alleging illegal tapping of his telephone by the service provider.

Taking on record the affidavit filed by Col. A.K. Sachdeva, nodal officer, Reliance Communications, the Bench sought the response of the Centre, the Delhi Police and the intervener, Centre for Public Interest Litigation. It posted the matter to March 8 for further hearing.

On the court's observations on the company intercepting Mr. Singh's telephone on the basis of an authorisation letter full of errors, the affidavit said there was no reason to believe that it was forged, as there were similar errors in earlier letters which were genuine.

It said: “A service provider is bound to act immediately on the request, and there are chances of a serious threat of terrorist attack if the request is not complied with on grounds of spelling errors.” The company enclosed specimen documents showing that there were similar spelling and other mistakes in the letters sent to it.

The affidavit said: “When a request for interception is received, the service provider is duty-bound to comply with it immediately, and there was no provision under which the service provider could send back the request by pointing out such mistakes. Postponing compliance on the ground of inconsequential mistakes like spelling errors may conceivably lead to a serious terrorist attack, and the blame may fall on us.”

The company said there were instances of its having received requests with defects. For example, a February 1, 2011 request letter, without any signature, was received from the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Interception Cell, pertaining to certain numbers of other service providers.

In this case, “the company has acted with perfect honesty and care and caution as required by the rules. There was no reason to suspect the genuineness of the vital communication, dated October 22, 2005, received from the Joint Commissioner of Police.”

The company said this communication was brought to the notice of the police on October 26, 2005. When no reply was received, interception was discontinued on November 5 that year. The company had invested approximately Rs.75,000 crore in the entire network and had 125 million subscribers nationwide, the nodal officer said. Furthermore, the company acted in a bona fide manner and followed the prescribed procedure and cooperated fully with the Delhi Police in their investigation.

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