Phone Tapping

When Dr Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister of India, he once had rejected the opposition’s demand for a JPC probe into the phone tapping allegations. He said, “This is not a fit case for a JPC. I do not see a need for it.” Left wing portal The Wire on Sunday shared a list of 40 Indian journalists which it claimed were snooped upon with the help of Israeli spyware ‘Pegasus.’ Earlier today, the NSO Group, which owns the Pegasus spyware said it considering filing defamation against The Wire for making outrageous allegations against them.When Congress Govt. snooped on politicians, including Pranab Mukherjee, Amar Singh and others 9,000 phones tapped every month.

UPA-II surveilled more than 9,000 phones and 500 email accounts

A response to an RTI filed in 2013 revealed that the UPA government at the Centre was closely monitoring 9,000 phones and 500 email accounts, a report published in Newsroom Post says. Under the UPA government, not only 10 or 20 but 9,000 phones were tapped every month. This not only included eminent individuals but even their own leaders, including senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee.

Amar Singh and others 9,000 phones were tapped every month

In January 2006, politician Amar Singh, the then general secretary of the Samajwadi Party, alleged that the Manmohan Singh government that came in power in 2004, had tapped his phone. Following the allegations made by Singh, other politicians such as Sitaram Yechuri, Jayalalitha, CB Naidu etc. Also made similar allegations against the UPA government. However, the most fascinating part about this incident is the response given by former PM Manmohan Singh. He said that the phone tapping was not done by his government but by a private agency.

4 year later Mamata Banerjee accused the CPM government in West Bengal of snooping on her

Almost four year later, in October 2009, the then Railway minister Mamata Banerjee accused the CPM government in West Bengal of snooping on her. Banerjee’s allegations once again rekindled the debate surrounding the Centre’s use of surveillance against its opponents and other party leaders. The then Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had said that the government would come out clean on the allegations of snooping. However, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rejected the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe in this matter.

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National security, preventing tax evasion and money laundering as the reasons to justify phone tapping

A year later, in December 2010, PM Singh defended his government’s move to tap phones of corporate honchos. He cited grounds of national security, preventing tax evasion and money laundering as the reasons to justify phone tapping. The following day, he reportedly asked his cabinet secretary to look into the phone tapping case and fortify the legal framework to prevent such leaks.
In June 2011, the then Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee wrote a letter to the PM asking him to conduct a secret inquiry into the bugging of his office. According to the reports, Mukherjee suspected that one of his cabinet colleagues was responsible for bugging his office.

Earlier last month, a Congress MLA in Rajasthan accused Chief minister Ashok Gehlot of tapping his phone. Congress MLA from Chaksu in Rajasthan’s Dausa district, Ved Prakash Solanki said ‘many officials’ told him that the phones of legislators were being tapped. There are also efforts underway to “trap” MLAs, Solanki had alleged then.

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