Congress demands Naveen Patnaik's resignation on telephone tapping issue



Bhubaneswar: The Opposition Congress in Odisha on Thursday demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for allegedly allowing telephone taps of political opponents and ministers, but the government denied the allegation.

The issue was raised during the zero hour in the assembly by Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh of Congress who alleged that 4,600 telephones, both landline and mobile phones, were tapped between December 29, 2008 and September 15, 2012.

Stating that telephones could be tapped only in case of national security, he alleged that the telephones 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 could not 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 was also the home minister, was in violation of the fundamental rights of the citizen and a breach of privilege of MLAs whose phones were tapped.

He said if the chief minister did not reply to the allegations in the House it should be considered that they were true and the CM should step down.

Leader of the BJP legislature party K V Singhdeo also sought clarification from the government whether the private telephone service provider could intercept phones of consumers.

Parliamentary affairs minister Kalpataru Das termed the allegations as baseless and said that 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 said.

Refusing to reveal telephone numbers which were tapped, Das alleged that the Central government tapped 7,000 to 9,000 telephones each month.

The information collected on telephone tapping under the RTI, nowhere spoke about interception of telephones of any politician, he added.

PTI