Jaitley phone-tapping: Angry over pace of probe, Oppn asks govt if it has something to hide?

Arun Jaitley

Speaking on alleged tracking of phone records of senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, the government on Friday rejected allegation of phone tapping and promised to get the full details of the "unauthorised" obtaining of call details of the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha.

"The government did not authorise anybody to intercept the telephone of the LOP," Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in a statement in the Upper House, where he came in for sharp criticism by non-Congress members on the issue.

Shinde said, "This was not a case of telephone tapping. The Indian government is not tapping any member's phone."

Rejecting the statement, BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said "it is nothing but reporting of an SHO" as the minister has only chosen to say that investigation is going on and interrogation has taken place.

"Normally the suspicion goes to the government... How can such activity take place without the knowledge of the government or its consent...Is there anything for government to hide... there is something fishy... there is something more than what meets the eyes. How can you be sure that phone tapping did not take place?" Naidu asked.

Ramgopal Yadav (SP) also wondered as to why a constable required the Call Data Records (CDR) of a big leader like the LOP. "Who is behind it?" he said, adding doubts have been expressed that CDRs of 100 leaders of both Houses have been taken out.

Shinde said the government will consider the suggestion of the SP member that it should be made mandatory to seek the permission of the Rajya Sabha Chairman before the call detail records of any member is obtained and promised to write to the telephone department in this regard.

He also made it clear that what has been detected is "not the monitoring of telephone conversation, which is ordinarily called tapping, but accessing of the CDR".

... contd.

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