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Law Enforcement Agencies Can Tap Anyone’s Phone for Security/Operational Reasons for 72 Hours

BeyondHeadlines Staff Reporter

New Delhi:  A meeting of chief secretaries, directors general of police and Home Ministry officials yesterday discussed various aspects of telephone tapping and decided that law enforcement agencies can tap anyone’s phone for security/operational reasons for 72 hours even without getting permission from the union home secretary or principal secretary (home) of states. An inspector general-rank officer can give orders to do so. But if they do not get a nod from the top on the fourth day, they will have to destroy the call records within 48 hours of getting the response from the designated authority.
However, some of the participating chief secretaries at the meeting chaired by Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai said 48 hours time to delete the tapped phone calls was too short and it should be extended. Home Ministry officials also told the representatives of the state governments about do’s and don’ts of wire tapping and emphasised strict adherence to rules.
The meeting also discussed recommendations of the secretaries of the committee on telephone tapping.
Telephone tapping has been a very controversial issue in the country, especially in the wake of leaks of telephone tapes of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and subsequent petition in court about misuse of powers of phone tapping by some agencies.
The government had last month constituted a 15-member inter-ministerial group to recommend effective monitoring of provisions of telephone tapping and curtailing its leak.
The meeting also explained how to destroy the records which were not needed for investigation. The meeting asked states as well as telecom service providers to send details of phone tapping sanctions to the central monitoring agency every month so that it could be checked whether the agencies were adhering to the procedures or not, they added.
It was explained that the Department of Telecom had passed on details including available technology to all enforcement agencies elaborating how to keep the tapping records safely to prevent leak and also how to destroy the portion which was not at all needed for any investigation or security purpose.
In addition to phone tapping, the meeting also deliberated on issues like census on castes, people living Below Poverty Line, urban poor and human trafficking. Census on castes, BPL and urban poor will be conducted together across the country and all logistics and manpower provided by the state governments.
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