The Telegraph
Friday , March 22 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Assembly panel meets ministers

Guwahati, March 21: The privilege committee of Assam Assembly has called the five Congress legislators who had moved the Speaker, seeking probe into reports about their phones being tapped.

Bhimananda Tanti, deputy speaker and chairman of the privilege committee, told The Telegraph that it would be the panel’s first meeting with the legislators and based on their views, future course of action would be decided.

“The MLAs will appear before the committee after the day’s proceedings. Where the case is heading will depend on what the MLAs say during the interaction. We have also called senior MLAs Anjan Dutta and Debabrata Saikia in another case involving a police official,” Tanti said.

On March 6, state forest minister Rakibul Hussain had dismissed the phone tapping claims in the Assembly as baseless but assured action if the MLAs formally moved the Speaker about the case.

The issue was raised by senior AGP MLA Phani Bhushan Choudhury in the House.

The five MLAs, all first-timers, are Jayanta Malla Barua (Nalbari), Pallav Lochan Das (Behali), parliamentary secretary Rekibuddin Ahmed (Chaygaon), APYC president Pijush Hazarika (Raha) and Rajen Borthakur (Tezpur). All are close to Himanta Biswa Sarma, seen to be the man leading the anti-Gogoi camp.

Barua had told The Telegraph on March 5 that they have requested Speaker Pranab Gogoi to look into a television report about their phones being tapped along with that of cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who, however, was not present in the team that met the Speaker.

Phone tapping is a serious issue and can be tackled only by intelligence and operational agencies dealing with extremists, insurgency and revenue issues, but with prior approval of the home ministry.