Probe into Himachal phone tapping over, report submitted

The probe into the alleged tapping of phones during the previous BJP regime in Himachal Pradesh has been completed.

Shimla: The probe into the alleged tapping of phones during the previous BJP regime in Himachal Pradesh has been completed and the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau of the state police on Saturday submitted the report and recommended registration of FIR against the erring officials.

"The inquiry has been completed and report submitted to ADGP (Vigilance And Anti-corruption) Prithvi Raj," said AP Singh, Deputy Inspector General of Police, who headed the enquiry team.

However, Singh refused to divulge the findings of the enquiry and said that now it is for the government to study the report and take necessary action.

Highly-placed sources in the government said that as per the enquiry report, Indian telegraph Act and Information Technology Act have been violated, phones had been tapped illegally without authorisation from competent authority.

Permission for tapping the phones of some people had been taken repeatedly on "filmsy grounds", the records of tapped conversion which were not required as evidence had not been destroyed within maximum period of six months and in some cases no action had been taken on incriminating evidence in conversations which constituted an offence.

The Vigilance and anti-corruption Bureau did not scan the audio files as the number of files was as high as 70,000 and it would have taken months and years to scan the same.

Sources said that politicians, bureaucrats and some journalists were among the people whose phones had been tapped during the BJP regime.

The Vigilance inquiry into the alleged phone tapping has prima facie established that telephones of top politicians, bureaucrats, cops, realtors and journalists were intercepted in violation of the Indian Telegraph Act and Information Technology Act.

The hard discs of CID and Vigilance computers were seized after the Congress came to power on December 25 last year and a team of forensic experts from the state Forensic science laboratory scanned the hard discs and enquiry was entrusted to Vigilance Bureau on the basis of the findings in the report.

It is primarily based on the fact that prima facie there is evidence of illegal interception, retention of the recorded conversation beyond authorisation period and non-action on the data collected through interception.

"Though permission could not have been given to intercept the phone of these leaders on any valid ground, since they were using someone else`s phone, their conversations got recorded," said officials.

The Vigilance team probing the phone tapping has been able to retract data of telephones intercepted from January to December 2012 from the CID and from July to December 2012 from the Home Department.

As many as 1,385 phones were intercepted in the four-year period between January 2009 and December 2012 with permission.

Out of this, 257 phones were put on surveillance from July to December 2012.