Even as the 2G scam media tapes are doing the rounds, there are 5,000-6,000 telephones being tapped on an average across the country by the Central investigation and intelligence agencies on a daily basis, sources said.
The sources feel that with the Adarsh scam, the Commonwealth Games scandal, and the 2G spectrum scam breaking out, the interception or tapping of phones and e-mail could reach higher levels, and many more details indicating the involvement of more persons in the scams could tumble out as different investigation agencies go ahead with probes.
“Of these, a majority relate to terror networks, and 10-12 per cent pertains to economic offences, including those involved in hawala dealings,” the sources said.
Intelligence and security agencies often keep tabs on the activities of terrorist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir as well the northeast, and the Naxal groups operating in seven States.
In India, telephone tapping has to be approved by a designated authority. The Central or State government is empowered to order interception of messages as per Section 5 of the Indian Telegraphic Act, 1885. There is also a provision for a review committee to supervise the order.
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, 2000, in general prohibits the interception of communications by a third party, with exceptions related to government agencies.
For the Central intelligence and investigation agencies, the designated authority is the Union Home Secretary, while for the States it is the State Home Secretary. The permission for interception or tapping is given for an initial period of 60 days and subsequently comes up for renewal before the designated authority. There are nearly 690 million mobile and landline telephone subscribers in India.