Pune police's call recording facility was defunct for 2 yrs, reveals RTI activist

Aug 27, 2014, 05:29 IST | Salil Urunkar

Installed to record calls with information about sensitive cases, the facility went cold after the police administration failed to ensure its maintenance for 2 years

Nearly five years ago, the Pune police was much lauded for introducing the voice logger facility to its control room, enabling them to record calls that gave them tip-offs or information about ongoing cases. A Right To Information (RTI) query launched by a city activist has, however, revealed that the facility has been out of operation for the past two years.

Calls recorded by the system formed an important part of evidence, and also helped the police nab criminals based on the information given by callers. It was especially useful in sensitive or controversial cases such as terror attacks, murders or attacks on women.

RTI activist Binod Kumar Ojha
The facility was introduced to the control room to record the information given by callers, which could later be used as evidence; (inset) RTI activist Binod Kumar Ojha.  Pic/Dattatraya Adhalge

However, in a reply to an RTI application by Lohegaon-based social activist Binod Kumar Ojha, the police admitted that the system had become defunct due to non-maintenance. The reply, dated August 18, stated that the software had been installed on November 22, 2009, with a three-year annual maintenance contract (AMC) with a software company. After the contract ended on November 22, 2012, there was no further upkeep of the system, and issues began to arise with it.

The activist, Ojha, pointed out that this was a major lapse, as the facility could provide crucial evidence for several ongoing criminal cases as well. “Pune city has witnessed many controversial criminal incidents, like the recent bomb blast outside the Faraskhana police station, or the murder of the anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar. Besides this, crimes against women are increasing day by day. As an alert citizen, if I were to call the police control room, where is the guarantee that it would help police in investigating the crime?” he asked.

“The voice logger service at the police control room is crucial, as it becomes the most vital piece of evidence during any criminal trial. If the Police Commissioner does not respond to our demands of restarting the recording facility, we will be compelled to approach the courts,” he told mid-day.

The Other Side

While the police’s official reply to Ojha admitted that non-maintenance had led to the system’s end, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Branch- I) Shreekant Pathak made entirely different claims. Mentioning that the system is not in working condition, he said, “The server was affected during a fire incident recently. I have asked my officials
to send all information about the AMC tomorrow (August 27).”

Prank callers nabbed
The voice logger facility also helped the police to nab prank callers, who often called as many as 50 times just to bother the officers, or, sometimes, because the calls were free of charge.  The Pune police control room receives more than 10 thousand calls daily, out of which almost 90 per cent are blank or prank calls. With the help of the recording facility, the police had identified and sent notices to 229 culprits, and summoned 108 of them to the commissioner’s office.

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