Karnataka government on Saturday asserted it had not ordered tapping of telephone of Lokayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde, who has now hinted at the possible involvement of a political party behind it.
“Government has not ordered (tapping of Mr. Hegde’s phone)”, Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath told PTI when contacted. “We have not authorised anything”.
When told about the Government position, Mr. Hegde said: “Is phone tapping of this type authorised? Do you think that the Government will officially, on record, say that you tap the telephone of Lokayukta?”
Speaking in general terms, he said everybody knows that phone tapping is going on in a big way by various organisations and special investigation agencies.
Asked if he is convinced that the State Government is behind his phone-tapping, Mr. Hegde, a former Supreme Court Judge, told PTI: “I would not say Government; but political party might be there (behind the phone-tapping)...I don’t know, that I don’t want to comment...I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to join issue on phone tapping”.
The disclosure of the Lokayukta earlier this week that his phone had been tapped and coming as it did after his second and final report on the mining scam in Karnataka was leaked, has raised a political storm, with Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and four ministers being indicted.
The opposition Congress on Saturday staged a dharna at Freedom Park here, demanding Mr. Yeddyurappa’s resignation, holding him responsible for the phone-tapping, and a CBI probe into it.
Karnataka Home Minister R. Ashoka had said on Friday he came to know about the phone-tapping only through the media, and there was no complaint from the Lokayukta.
Responding to this, Mr. Hegde said he does not want to lodge a complaint on telephone-tapping as he does not want to “divert the issues (from mining scam)”. He also said he is looking forward to settle down in a relaxed manner post-retirement (August 2).
Mr. Hegde also said the “complaint will not end anywhere because I know something about phone-tapping. This (if one lodges complaint) never ends. It will be one man’s voice against people’s voice”.