New Delhi (Agencies): The Supreme Court slammed the Government on Friday for not cancelling the licence of Reliance Infocomm for illegally tapping the telephone of politician Amar Singh on the basis of forged orders. NGO appeals disclosure of Amar tape
"Why didn't you cancel the licence of the service provider? It's gross negligence. Either service provider was doing deliberately or because of its incompetence on the basis of a letter full of errors.
"There were gross errors in the letter on which the interception was done. Government should have cancelled the licence of the service provider per se," a bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly said.
Reliance Infocomm company has been with the group headed by Anil Ambani after the split between the Ambani brothers in July, 2005.
"That was in 2005, now it is 2011 and service provider has been allowed to continue with its business. The government has not taken any action so far. It is a serious matter and why action has not been taken against the service provider," the bench said.
The remarks of the bench came as the Reliance Infocomm had intercepted Singh's telephone between October 22 and December 21, 2005 on the basis of two letters of the "competent authority” which had several grammatical errors and subsequently it was found that the signatures of officers were forged.
"The letters were coming from the senior police officer and Home Secretary, the senior IAS officer. The whole content should have been examined for public safety. It was such a serious matter. This type of order has been acted upon by the service provider. The citizen of this country has no safety. They are subjected to interception by unscrupulous service provider," the bench said.
Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium shared the concern of the Bench and said these are special powers which have to be exercised in the most extra-ordinary situation.
However, the Bench said "how can a person act on such type of letters. How can you allow a service provider to continue".
"The nation is target of various activities over the years in various parts of the country. They are masters of forgery who can prepare such orders and place before service providers for intercepting phone calls. Is it not their duty to check with the government authority before intercepting," the bench said.
The Bench also said under these circumstances even the phone number of Army Chief can be intercepted and diverted to anti-national elements in foreign countries.
"Anybody's communication can be intercepted by the unscrupulous service provider. It is extremely dangerous situation which is happening," the bench observed while criticising the government for its inaction.
"Can you see where things have gone? It has sunk so low. Government doesn't seem to have taken action in a serious matter. Why Government has not taken any action," the Bench said adding that "All of you are in league and the court is the soft target".
The Bench said the service provider should have carefully gone into the order of requisition for intercepting the communication as doubts would have emerged instantly when there were "gross grammatical" errors.
The court was hearing the petition filed by the former Samajwadi leader who had sought judicial inquiry into the illegal tapping of his telephone allegedly at the behest of his political rivals including the Congress Party.
Citing WikiLeaks, an NGO on Friday sought complete diclosure of the controversial tapped conversation of Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh with top corporate honchos, politicians and bollywood stars.
If Wikileaks can make American government's documents public then why Singh's conversation cannot brought in public domain, asked Prashant Bhushan, counsel for NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation.
"Very few of the tapped conversation are private in nature and most of them are public in nature. Every person has a right to know how public authority functions," Bhushan said before a bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly.
"WikiLeaks had got all the government documents illegally and made public by putting them on its website. No body is trying to restrain it from doing so," he said adding that the way of recording such conversations may not be proper but if the conversations revealed illegal and shady deals then it was in public interest to expose these.
Terming the unauthorised tapping of telephone of any person as a "very serious matter affecting the privacy of an individual",the apex court had on February 27, 2006, passed the stay order barring the media from publication and telecast of contents of the tapped conversations.
New Delhi (Agencies): The Supreme Court slammed the Government on Friday for not cancelling the licence of Reliance Infocomm for illegally tapping the telephone of politician Amar Singh on the basis of forged orders.
NGO appeals disclosure of Amar tape