The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday refuted allegations that it had illegally tapped the phones of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and CBI’s former special director Rakesh Asthana, reports said. The agency was responding to a petition in the Delhi High Court that sought an investigation into the alleged phone tapping.
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. Chaturvedi claimed that the agency’s special unit had committed “an abuse of power” and that the existing policy on phone-tapping and surveillance was not comprehensive. The petition said public servants were given “uncontrolled” and “unaccountable” powers.
On March 24, the Ministry of Home Affairs told the Delhi High Court that telephonic interceptions are carried out in the “interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India”. The High Court in January 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.
The CBI, however, said that the Centre had formulated the rules on the matter in accordance with the Supreme Court’s directions. “It is submitted that the telephone calls of Ajit Doval and Rakesh Asthana were not intercepted at any point of time by CBI, Special Unit,” the agency said.
A bench of Delhi high court chief justice Rajendra Menon and justice AJ Bhambhani listed the matter for July 8, PTI reported.
On October 23, 2018, 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.
Meanwhile, the agency has asked the court for more time to investigate a bribery case involving Asthana and others, PTI reported.