Amid controversy over leakage of telephonic conversations involving top industrialists, corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and others, the Finance Ministry has asked the DoT to enquire into the conduct of telecom operators and identify individuals involved in it.
“DoT (Department of Telecom) will have to conduct a further enquiry to establish leakage of the telephonic intercepts in the end of telecom service providers, to identify actual individuals who are involved in this,” Finance Ministry said in a communication to Telecom Secretary R. Chandrashekhar.
The communication follows enquiry by a two-member committee set up by the Finance Ministry to enquire into the leakage of tapes which found their way to media and generated controversy.
According to sources, more than 200 employees of Radia owned Vaishnavi group of firms have exercised the option of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) to switch their operators from Bharti Airtel to other service providers like Vodafone or Tata DoCoMo.
MNP allows subscribers to change their service provider while retaining the same number.
In its report to the government, the two-member committee has said that the issue of leakage of telephone intercepts needs to be further probed by the DoT and sought an immediate action.
The DoT has sought “necessary details” from the Finance Ministry to take action in this regard.
“In absence of details of intercepts of telephones which have leaked and the context in which enquiry is to be made, it may be difficult to enquire into the aspect. Hence, you are requested to send the necessary details to take further action on the issue,” the DoT said in its reply to the Finance Ministry.
Irked by the leakage of telephonic conversations, noted industrialist Ratan Tata moved the Supreme Court seeking action against those involved in the leakage of tapes containing his conversation with corporate lobbyist Radia.
Mr. Tata, in the petition, has contended that the leakage of the tapes have infringed upon his fundamental Right to Life, which includes right to privacy. He has made the central government a party in his petition.
Meanwhile, the government has set up a 15-member Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) for recommending effective monitoring of provisions of telephone tapping with a view to checking leakage to the public at large.
The Union Home Secretary will chair the IMG which will have secretaries of Defence, DoT, IT, Revenue, Personnel and Legal Affairs among its members, according to a Cabinet Secretary note.
The Group will make recommendations on reviewing the comparable provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act and suggest amendments.