NEW DELHI: The Prime Minsiter’s Office (PMO) on Monday forwarded a complaint on Essar tapping to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The complaint filed by a Supreme Court lawyer Suren Uppal on June 1 alleged that Essar Group tapped several telephones of politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists during 2001-2006. A top MHA official said the decision of any further action, based on the complaint, may be taken on Wednesday.
“We need to seek legal opinion on the issue while examining the Essar tapping complaint. A decision will be taken thereafter whether to order a probe into illegal phone tapping suo motu or based on a complaint by a person who has been allegedly tapped,” the official said.
Illegal phone tapping is a punishable offence under provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act. Phones of several politicians, including Suresh Prabhu, Praful Patel, late Pramod Mahajan, bureaucrat’s late Brajesh Mishra and N K Singh and industrialists Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani were allegedly tapped. According to Supreme Court guidelines, the Union Home Secretary has to approve phone tapping.
The Home Ministry official said since no one so far came forward to lodge a written complaint against alleged tapping, it may take a suo motu cognisance and refer the case to either Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or Delhi Police.
Uppal, in his complaint, has claimed that he was representing the Essar group whistleblower Basit Khan, who allegedly tapped the phones of various VVIPs.
However, Khan had dissociated himself with Uppal. The Essar had also denied allegations saying the group never conducted or authorised any person to conduct any phone surveillance.
According to Supreme Court guidelines, the Union Home Secretary has to approve if agencies want to monitor and record a phone call, which is valid for two months, unless extension is granted in some rare cases. Guidelines also suggest that tapping must be restricted.