Delhi HC tells Centre, CBI to file response on plea to probe phone tapping

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New Delhi, Jan 15 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Central government and the CBI to file reply to a plea seeking a direction to constitute a SIT to look into the abuse of power by some officials of the probe agency by illegally tapping phone calls.

A division bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V. Kameswar Rao asked the Centre and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to file reply on the plea, and listed the matter for further hearing on March 26.

The court was hearing a plea filed by lawyer and social activist Sarthak Chaturvedi, who has also sought a direction to the Central government for framing comprehensive guidelines regarding tracing, tapping and surveillance of phone calls.

The plea also sought accountability of officials.

Chaturvedi requested the court to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the abuse of powers by some highly placed CBI officials by illegally intercepting phone calls of individuals without following the due procedures.

He mentioned in his plea that some CBI officials were misusing their powers for ulterior motives.

The Special Unit (SU) of the CBI deals with phone tapping and technical surveillance. It is headed by a Deputy Inspector General (DIG) rank official.

“…immediately after the news broke out on arrest of Manoj Prasad, Somesh Prasad made immediate calls to Samant Goel, who made calls to Rakesh Asthana. There were four calls between Somesh and Samant Goel, and four calls between Samant Goel and Rakesh Asthana by October 17, 2018 afternoon,” the plea read.

“There was also a call between Dineshwar Prasad (father of Somesh Prasad and Manoj Prasad) with Samant Goel, Special Secretary, RAW. It establishes that mobile numbers of Manoj, Somesh, Samant, Dineshwar and Rakesh Asthana, were intercepted illegally by Rakesh Rathi, DIG, SU.”

He told the court that at that time Rathi was heading the SU and reporting to A.K. Sharma, Head of Policy Division, and eventually to Alok Verma, then CBI Director.

The CBI has not formulated any guideline to deal with tracing, tapping and surveillance of phone calls.

Chaturvedi said tracing, tapping and surveillance of phone calls directly and indirectly affects national security and intelligence.

–IANS

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