Last month a private detective Neeraj Nayyar was arrested by Delhi Police for obtaining the phone records of senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley. A police constable Arvind Kumar Dabas was found to have helped Nayyar in the illegal effort.
On Friday, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde averred in the Rajya Sabha that "This was not a case of telephone tapping." He denied that the government had not authorised anyone to intercept the telephone of the Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House.
Pointing out that the "Union Home Secretary is the competent authority to allow phone tapping under the Indian Telegraph Act", Shinde said that the government "is not tapping any member's phone if at all permission is given".
About the enquiry into the matter, he said that the police will try to get the details "as early as possible" and added that the members should not insist
on a time limit.
However, BJP members were not satisfied with Shinde's statement. M Venkaiah Naidu noted that the home minister is "reporting" like a "SHO" as he has merely cited the ongoing investigation and the interrogation of Arvind Kumar Dabas.
"Normally the suspicion goes to the government... How can such activity take place without the knowledge of the government or its consent... there is something more than what meets the eyes. How can you be sure that phone tapping did not take place?" the BJP leader wanted to know.
Ramgopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party said that Shinde did not provide any new information to the MPs and in fact newspapers have already given more details of the phone tapping.
Making the same point, AIADMK's V Maitreyan quipped: "The television put up in the Central Hall (of Parliament) gives more information." He observed that either the government taps phones of some individuals or outsources the tapping to private companies. Maitreyan asked Shinde the tapping of Jaitley's phone fell in which of the two categories.
Shivanand Tiwari of the Janata Dal (United) demanded a probe. ""It seems there is no government and people are acting as they like," he said.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury voiced apprehension that his phone was being tapped too.
OneIndia News (with PTI inputs)