The Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday told the Delhi High Court that telephonic interceptions are carried out in the “interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India”, reported The Indian Express. The High Court had sought the Centre’s response to a petition accusing the Central Bureau of Investigation of illegally tapping National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s phone.
Petitioner Sarthak Chaturvedi had said that the phones of Doval and several other officers were tapped during the feud between former CBI Director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana.
The court is scheduled to hear the plea on Tuesday.
In its affidavit, the ministry said Rule 419A of the Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Rules 2007 allows setting up a review committee to review the directions for interceptions. “The Review Committee within a period of sixty days from the issue of directions shall suo motu make necessary enquiries and investigations and record its findings whether the directions issued… are in accordance with the provisions of Section 5 (2) of the Indian Telegraph Act,” read the ministry’s affidavit. “When the Review Committee is of the opinion that the directions are not in accordance with the provisions referred to above, it may set aside the directions and order for destruction of the copies of the intercepted message or class of messages.”
The ministry claimed the interceptions did not violate the right to speech and expression. “Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India specifically provides for reasonable restrictions and all rights can be restricted in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, security of State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency, or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence,” the affidavit said.
On October 23, the Centre had relieved both Verma and Asthana of their duties after they traded charges of corruption and interference in several cases. In January, the Supreme Court had reinstated Verma to his post, but he was sacked once again by a Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led panel.