Opposition targets CM again
By Express News Service | Published: 07th December 2012 11:40 AM |
The Congress on Thursday raised the issue of phone-tapping in the Assembly and vociferously demanded that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik must resign. However, the Government denied having secretly allowed tapping of phones of political opponents and ministers.
The issue was raised during zero hour in the Assembly by Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh. He charged that 4,600 telephones, both landline and mobile phones, were tapped between December 29, 2008 and September 15, 2012. Telephones could be tapped only in case of national security, he said.
The phones of certain ministers and MLAs were tapped by the Government on political consideration which endangered personal liberty. Pointing out that the Supreme Court had categorically stated that the telephones of politicians cannot be tapped, Singh sought a clarification on the number of anti-nationals, Maoists and politicians including ministers whose telephones were tapped during the period.
He said the act by the State Government where the Chief Minister who also holds Home portfolio, was in violation of the fundamental rights of the citizen and a breach of privilege of MLAs whose phones were tapped. If the Chief Minister did not reply to the allegations in the House it should be considered that they were true and the Chief Minister should step down.
Leader of the BJP legislature party KV Singhdeo also sought clarification from the Government whether the private telephone service provider can intercept phones of consumers.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kalpataru Das termed the allegations as baseless and said the telephones of politicians and ministers had not been tapped and tapping was only resorted to on security grounds. All cases of phone taps were done according to the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, he pointed out.
Refusing to reveal telephone numbers which were under surveillance, Das on the other hand alleged that the Centre tapped 7,000-9,000 telephones each month. The information collected on telephone tapping under the RTI nowhere spoke about interception of telephones of any politician, he clarified.