Team to probe alleged phone tapping during Assembly polls

Updated: 04 February, 2020 07:55 IST | A correspondent | Mumbai

A two-member team of an IAS and IPS officer will submit probe report to the home minister in six weeks; ex-CM accused of misusing power

Anil Deshmukh, home minister
Anil Deshmukh, home minister

A team of a senior IAS and IPS officers each has been readied to probe the alleged phone-tapping of Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP leaders during the 2019 Assembly polls.

The probe will try to find out the officers and political leaders who were allegedly involved in the act within six weeks, said Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. Devendra Fadnavis, the then CM, headed the home department, which the leaders (whose phones were 'tapped') have accused of issuing orders to derive political advantage.

"Shrikant Singh, additional chief secretary of Home department, and Amitesh Kumar, joint commissioner of State Intelligence Department, have been asked to submit a report within six weeks," said Deshmukh adding that the probe would also look into the visit of senior officers to Israel. He said after the Maha Vikas Aghadi government came to power, several Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress leaders complained of their phones being tapped during the Vidhan Sabha elections.

When pointed out that the Shiv Sena was part of the previous government, he said, "everyone knows who was running and dominating the government".

Deshmukh said the power of keeping phones on surveillance and the authority to access data like call records has been grossly misused last year for political gain.

"This abuse of power has serious implications for national security and right to freedom and privacy as enshrined in the Constitution," he said.

A brief note on the terms of reference of the probe said, "The inquiry should cover not only the legal documentation but also take the support of technical experts to decipher if unofficial surveillance has been carried out by tracing the footprint in the servers of various telecom companies through physical verification and visits."

On the backdrop of an acid attack on a teacher in Wardha district, Deshmukh said he proposed to have a law like Andhra Pradesh where crimes against women are tried within 21 days. It takes seven days to investigate and 14 days to hold a trial. "I will personally meet the AP home minister and law minister to get acquainted with the law and its formation," he said, adding that Monday's attack was heinous and the accused was arrested immediately.

"We will ensure that the accused who injured the teacher seriously gets a harsh punishment," he said.

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First Published: 04 February, 2020 07:40 IST

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