The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Koda spikes call monitor blueprint

Ranchi, March 26: Chief minister Madhu Koda is learnt to have spiked a move by the police headquarters to install a “lawful interception and monitoring system” for GSM, CDMA and PSTN phones.

The system would have enabled the police to intercept, monitor and digitally record any telephone call, made from landline or mobile phones, any SMS and any fax ending or originating in the state.

Sources in the chief minister’s secretariat said Koda expressed his reservations about the system and directed the police to refrain from finalising the bid.

A report in this newspaper, sources said, had set the cat among the pigeons by suggesting that the system would be a threat to privacy and could be misused to tap phone calls of the governor, chief minister and politicians.

“It was agreed that the system could be misused for settling personal scores by senior police officials, bureaucrats and politicians. This could have given rise to unnecessary controversy. The chief minister wants to steer clear of such controversies, given the fragile nature of his government. He is apprehensive that the system would have given handle to the Opposition to nail him on the slightest pretext,” said a senior official of the CM secretariat.

Officials associated with police (modernisation) confirmed that the proposal has been dropped and there are no plans in the near future to take up the project again. But they had a different take and said: “We dropped the proposal as there was just one party that took part in the bidding. According to norms, there has to be more than one bidder when finalising projects.”

The system, costing over Rs 10 crore, would have enabled the police control room to hear and record any conversation, admitted officials.

But there were murmurs of protest within the government as it was felt that state police would not be able to prevent its misuse. It was at this juncture that Koda intervened and ordered that the system be shelved.

The purchase panel had met to evaluate the bid when the decision to scuttle the scheme was conveyed to it.

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