Shimla, Feb. 16: A Shimla forensic lab has retrieved nearly 750 tapped phone conversations from the hard disks of eight computers seized from Himachal Pradesh police’s CID wing, official sources said today.
The conversations are mainly of rival politicians and some bureaucrats between 2009 and 2011 when P.K. Dhumal’s BJP government was in power, a report by the State Forensic Laboratory near Shimla said.
Congress chief minister Virbhadra Singh had ordered a probe into alleged phone-tapping by the police during the Dhumal regime last December. The report was submitted to the government yesterday.
“The report has evidence of around 750 conversations that were recorded at different periods. A high-level committee will find out how many were recorded by flouting norms,” Himachal chief secretary Sudipto Roy said.
The number of phone-tap cases could go up further as the report on four computer hard disks seized from the vigilance wing is still awaited, sources said.
“A preliminary enquiry said the tapping of only 90 phones was authorised. The probe panel will now find what these phone numbers are,” a top source said.
Congress spokesperson and Himachal industries minister Mukesh Agnihotri said the report confirmed apprehensions that the privacy of Opposition leaders had been infringed upon.
“What is clear is that the report has proved our allegations that the former BJP government was spying on Opposition leaders,” he said.
Top CID officials refuted charges that norms had been flouted while tapping phones. They claimed that everything was done according to law and nothing was the work of a single police officer as a full network of officials, including the home secretary, was involved.
“There was no unlawful monitoring. Everything that was done was permitted under the law,” an officer said.
The chief minister, who is away in Delhi, will return to Shimla tomorrow. Dhumal said permission for phone-tapping was given by the home secretary under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. “Whose telephone is to be put on observation is decided by the home secretary and not by the chief minister,” he said.