Sunday 6 February 2011

India Needs A Valid Phone Tapping Law

Lawful interception of communications of citizens is a much needed requirement for law enforcement and security agencies world wide. Lawful interception, by its very nature, must be lawful and constitutional. An illegal or unconstitutional interception like phone tapping cannot be tolerated in a civilized and democratic country.

India urgently needs a lawful interception law that is presently missing. For instance, phone tapping in India is still governed by colonial law of telegraph act that is not at all suitable for the present constitution bound India.

Techno legal experts like Praveen Dalal believe that phone tapping in India is not constitutionally performed. This is logical as well as after the constitution of India came into force, citizens of India are empowered with many fundamental rights, including right to privacy. The present phone tapping and interception mechanism of Indian government is illegal and unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court recently took serious note of unauthorised phone tapping by private telecom companies and sought Centre's response on the action taken against Reliance Infocom for intercepting politician Amar Singh's telephone five years ago. During the hearing, the bench was informed that the conversation was tapped on the basis of a "forged" letter.

It was also contended that the guidelines laid down by the apex court regarding phone tapping in the past were aimed at preventing the arbitrary exercise of the powers conferred under Section 5(2) of the telegraph act, as it would amount to serious violation of an individual's fundamental right to privacy.

However, despite these guidelines by the supreme court of India, executive are clearly violating the constitutional rights of Indian citizens. There is an urgent need of enacting a lawful interception law in India as suggested legal experts like Praveen Dalal.