Shimla, March 3: Himachal Pradesh police’s vigilance and anti-corruption bureau last year tapped 350 phones, mostly belonging to bureaucrats whose loyalty the then BJP government suspected, a probe panel has revealed in its second and final report.
Its first report had accused the police’s criminal investigation department (CID) of tapping the phones of 789 Opposition leaders, bureaucrats, staff union bosses and their wives between 2009 and 2011.
Congress chief minister Virbhadra Singh had set up the panel with two forensic experts and a bureaucrat to probe allegations of official eavesdropping during the rule of his predecessor, Prem Kumar Dhumal of the BJP.
Two weeks ago, state police chief I.D. Bhandari was removed after claiming that the phone-tapping did not violate any rules.
The probe panel’s first report said that of the 789 phones tapped by the CID, only 35 were tapped legally — that is, with permission from the proper authorities. It said the illegal recordings included 75 personal conversations between politicians or bureaucrats and their wives.
The second report did not say how many of the 350 phones were tapped illegally. The state government will look into this, Virbhadra said.
“The government is handing over the probe to the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau. Strict action would be initiated against officials who were involved,” he said.
Although the accused police wing will itself probe the matter, any conflict of interest may be limited by the fact that most officers suspected of involvement have been shunted since the political change of guard last December.