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Phones bugged, report sought

Cuttack, Jan. 5: The National Human Rights Commission has sought a report from the Odisha government on the tapping of 4,620 telephones.

Information given by the Odisha home department in response to a query by a human rights activist under the Right to Information Act had revealed that 4,620 phones were tapped since December 2008.

A complaint was filed before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) by Odisha-based India Media Centre alleging that the phone tapping by the Odisha government amounted to invasion of privacy and violation human rights.

“Taking note of the complaint, NHRC has issued notice to the state government and sought report within four weeks on the matter from the state home secretary,” said petitioner’s counsel Nishikanta Mishra.

A total of 4,620 landline and mobile telephones were tapped in Odisha from December 29, 2008 till 2012.

“Our basic contention in the complaint was that a phone could be tapped only when there is a public emergency. But there was no such emergency during the period. Hence, there was violation of fundamental rights of citizens,” said Mishra.

Earlier, the state government had clarified in the Assembly that phone tapping was only resorted to on security grounds and all cases of phone tapping were done according to the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act.

The state government under Sec 5 (2) of Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, had given orders for legal interception of 4,620 numbers in the past four years, which works out to be 1,200 each year, chief minister Naveen Patnaik had told the Assembly.