Telephone tapping power denied to Lokpal

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P Chidambaram
New Delhi, Jul 4: P Chidambaram, Home Minister denied permission to the Lokpal to hand over power to tap phones as it breached the new tapping guidelines .

The members of civil society, the anti corruption body had asked the government that they be given authority to tap phones under the Indian Telegraph act.

Only the Union home secretary has the authority to give orders on phone tapping following requests from either of the eight investigating agencies.

The members of civil society asserted that administrators of Lokpal should be given the power with respect to the cases being investigated by the anti corruption body.

A central monitoring system (CMS) was being put by the government as a new protocol to regularise phone tapping and that the Lokpal must stand by the same, Chidambaram had said.

As there was complete disagreement in the meetings on the issue of the joint drafting committee, the government draft excluded any acknowledgment to the same. The government's draft does not even cite if the Lokpal will be authorised for requesting phone tapping.

The telecom security project is of prime importance as the government will be able to supervise the tapped lines which meets at a point.

The CMS will also be able to monitor all the telephonic traffic generated throughout the country and this will automatically switch off or on the tapped line from the service provider after the home secretary approves the same.

According to government source, post the Radia tapes controversy, government is unprepared to give Lokpal the authority to tap phones.

"The Lokpal should come under the CMS system like the other investigating agencies, including the CBI which also taps phones for anti graft purposes. The requests from the dedicated investigation wing of the Lokpal for tapping certain numbers will be approved on merit by the home secretary," said a government source.

"The apprehension that the government will impede probes by the Lokpal is unfounded. The government's only aim is to stop illegal tapping and leakage," added the source.

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