Taxman tapping your phone? Can it be used as proof?
Bengaluru, May 30: The Income Tax Department is likely to use to phone tapping in a big way to crackdown on black money. While tapping will help find the trail, it could also be used as evidence in a court of law.
The IT department has been in some cases using phone tapping. However with the government now getting serious about bringing back black money, the department has decided to use this in a big way.
However for the IT department there will be some legal hurdles if the procedures are not followed. Let us examine the law of the land where phone tapping is concerned and whether it can be used as evidence in a court of law.
The law on phone tapping:
The Supreme Court in the People's Union for Civil Liberties vs Union of India case held that a telephone conversation in private without interference would come under the purview of the Right to Privacy as specified by the Constitution.
The court held that phone tapping would be legal provided it does not infringe upon the privacy of a person.
The Supreme Court of India said that there are guidelines to be followed before a phone is tapped. The home secretary of India or the state government has to issue an order authorising that a phone can be tapped.
However, the decision to tap a phone has to be reviewed by the Cabinet secretary, law secretary and telecommunication secretary.
Such an order needs to be reviewed in two months failing which fresh orders need to be passed, which can be valid up to six months. Strong reasons have to be specified in order to issue such a directive.
Records relating to phone tapping should be used and destroyed within two months.The order, which will be passed by the home secretary, shall be specific in nature.
The invasion of privacy shall be minimum in nature and the reasons should be strong before an order is passed failing which such an order can be subject to a court review.
Find out if your phone is tapped:
A device called a phone tapping detector could determine if your landline is being tapped or not. This device can be connected to the telephone and will alert users with a blinking light if the phone is being tapped.
During a conversation if you hear a tone which keeps breaking or has short beeps, this could mean that the phone is being tapped. However, one must not confuse it with a long steady tone. In addition to this, there could be some disturbances which may sound like a radio frequency.
In the case of a cell phone there could be short beeps too, which indicate that the phone is being tapped. Another thing to do is watch the cell phone when it is not in use. It could emit strange sounds when kept aside. It mean that someone is trying to pick up transmissions, a clear indication that the phone is being tapped.
If the battery on the cell phone is draining out faster than usual, it could be a sign that someone is tapping your phone.
If any department does not follow the guidelines then a citizen has various ways in which he or she can redress their grievance. A citizen has the right to lodge a complaint with the police.
The complaint would be subject to an investigation before action can be initiated against the indviduals tapping phones illegally.
If the police fails to act, a petition can always be filed in court alleging invasion of privacy.