NEW DELHI: Officers at the rank of Joint Secretary in the Centre can authorise orders for tapping of telephone ``in unavoidable circumstances,'' according to the new telephone tapping guidelines that came into effect on Friday.

According to the guidelines, only the Union Home Secretary at the Central level and Secretary, in charge of the Home Department at the State-level, can issue directions for interception of any message.

``In unavoidable circumstances, such order may be made by an officer, not below the rank of Joint Secretary at the Centre, who has been duly authorised by the Union Home Secretary or the State Home Secretary,'' the notification said.

The direction for interception will remain in force, unless revoked earlier, for not more than 60 days from the date of issuing. These directions can be renewed, but cannot remain in force beyond a total period of 180 days.

Nodal officers

The guidelines require telecom operators to appoint two nodal officers for scrutiny of all the requests for interception from authorised security agencies.

The Supreme Court, which is hearing the phone tapping controversy involving Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, on Friday granted one week to the Centre to place on record the fresh guidelines issued by the Department of Telecom.

The Bench headed by Justice C.K. Thakker asked the Centre to furnish a copy of the guidelines to Mr. Amar Singh's counsel while adjourning the matter for two weeks. PTI