The Intelligence wing of the State police has reported to the government that an officer attached to the Kerala State Cyber Police station had “without jurisdiction or authority” sought the call details of Saritha S. Nair, one of the main suspects in the Team Solar financial fraud case.
Investigators said the officer had passed on the “sensitive information” that he had obtained “illegally” to certain persons holding political office at the Secretariat. These persons, identified as members of the personal staff of a Minister, had leaked the information to the media. A Kerala Police Association office-bearer had played the role of a “go-between” in the episode, said investigators.
The State police had issued a memo to the officer asking him to explain why he had sought the call details of the suspect when he was not even “remotely involved” with the case investigation. Top officials said they perceived his clarification as “not satisfactory”. Chief Minister Oomen Chandy had summoned the official to his residence on Thursday.
Officials said the request for the call details had gone to the service provider from one of the several e-mail addresses used by the State Cyber Cell. The service provider had heeded the request as it had come from the police.
Certain police officers had conducted a rudimentary metadata analysis of Saritha’s call details and highlighted the timing, frequency, and duration of calls she had made to at least three Ministers, one former Minister and an MP, all allied to the ruling United Democratic Front, among others.
This was the version that was passed on to the media and subsequently telecast and published in print.
The “political motive” behind the leaks notwithstanding, the “revelations” ultimately proved embarrassing to the government. The disclosures almost jeopardised, at least in public view, the integrity of the investigation team headed by Additional Director General of Police A. Hemachandran, said senior officials. (The Intelligence has ruled out the involvement of any member of his team in the disclosures).
The whole event has raised serious questions about the right to privacy of individuals and privilege of legislators.