Sunday 6 February 2011

Phone Tapping Guidelines Are Not Followed In India

No time in the past the need for a valid lawful interception law in India in general and phone tapping law in particular is felt so much. Indian executive is blatantly violating the phone tapping requirements in India without any judicial scrutiny.

Even there is no constitutionally sound phone tapping law in India. India urgently needs a phone tapping law that is in conformity with present times and constitutional philosophy. The matter is pending before the Supreme Court of India and some concrete pronouncement in this regard is expected.

Now it has come to light that the Goa Government has been tapping telephones in the State, allegedly in violation of Supreme Court directions and the Indian Telegraph Rules, until very recently.

After an RTI application was made by RTI activist Savio Correia, the State Home Department informed that telephone tapping was done in breach of the procedure established by law. Even the direction of Supreme Court to establish a “Review Committee” for these purposes was not heeded to until September last year.

In India, neither the Central Home Ministry nor the State Home Ministries are disclosing the number, manner and methods of phone tappings in India. Interestingly, there is no provision for obtaining a judicial order from a court to tap a phone in India. All it needs to tap a phone in India to have a desire to do so. Even private individuals are doing the same for money without any deterrence.

India is also deliberately not formulating any guidelines or procedural safeguards to prevent abuse of phone tapping in India by the executive. This is so because these guidelines would take the arbitrary and unconstitutional powers of Indian executive to tap phone at will. This aspect must be kept in mind by the Supreme Court while deciding the petition pending before it.