Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Friday denied allegations that BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s phone was tapped, and stated that the case was that of private persons illegally obtaining phone call details of Rajya Sabha’s Leader of the Opposition. He said that the illegal access will be probed thoroughly.
Replying to questions from agitated MPs belonging to the BJP and other opposition parties who alleged that the government was behind it and that other senior leaders were also being targeted, Mr. Shinde said the Ministry of Home Affairs had not authorised anybody to intercept Mr. Jaitley’s calls.
“This was not a case of telephone tapping. The Indian government is not tapping any member’s phone...It [Mr. Jaitley’s case[ is not the monitoring of telephone conversation, which is ordinarily called tapping, but accessing of the CDR [call data record],” he said. He also said “serious investigations” were being carried out the Delhi police. “We will go into full details…We will get to its bottom,” he said, but did not give any timeframe for the completion of the probe.
Stating that as per Supreme Court guidelines, the Union Home Secretary is the only official with powers to give the go-ahead to central agencies for tapping of phones, Mr. Shinde said he would consider the MPs’ demand to make it mandatory to seek the permission of the Rajya Sabha Chairman before the CDRs of any member is obtained. He said there was a law against phone tapping, but there was no law to deal with illegal access of CDRs, an issue which the government would look into.
However, BJP’s M. Venkaiah Naidu accused the government of hiding the real facts behind the whole conspiracy. “Normally the suspicion goes to the government that how can such activity take place without the knowledge of the government or its consent. Is there anything for government to hide...There is something fishy...There is something more than what meets the eyes. How can you be sure that phone tapping did not take place?” he asked.
Similarly, Ramgopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party pointed towards media reports that CDRs of 100 MPs of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have been accessed, while CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury said his name was in the list of those whose phones were being tapped.