According to a startling revelation by Reliance Communications, close to 1.51 lakh phone numbers were tapped from 2006 to 2010 following requests from various government authorities. This fact was revealed to the Supreme Court on Monday. This data accounts for just one of the major players in the telecom segment.
Based on the figures revealed by Reliance Communications, it would be logical to conclude that the Government is tapping close to one lakh phone calls a year by seeking help form all the service providers. Reliance tapped an estimated 3588 phones in 2005 in Delhi alone and this also included Amar Singh's number.
A bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly had expressed their concern on the violation of citizen's privacy and whether the check was valid or not. This was followed by a letter by authorities that was visibly forged complete with grammatical errors and poor English thus raising serious questions about the authenticity of the letter.
Meanwhile, Reliance washed its hand off any sort of controversy that ensue after such revelations and said, “A bare perusal of various letters sent by Ranjit Narayan (then Joint Commissioner of Delhi Police) and R Narayanswami (then Delhi home secretary) show that the letters dated October 22, 2005 and November 9, 2005 (both purportedly forged ones) were similar to other letters received from them."
Reliance officials also stated that the request for surveillance could not be rejected from their part due to language errors in the letter and added, “Postponing compliance on the ground of inconsequential mistakes like spelling errors may conceivably lead to a serious terrorist attack and the blame may fall on us."
Reliance, which is also keeping in view the government's orders, claimed that, “The service providers are also required to provide assistance to law enforcement agencies as per the licence condition. Any violation of it can lead to a penalty of Rs 50 crore." Reliance Communications also added that the service providers do not keep a record of the tapped conversation.