India / Andhra govt is tapping phones of opposition parties: TDP chief to PM

The News Minute : Aug 17, 2020, 11:55 AM
Amravati: Leader of Opposition and former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Chandrababu Naidu has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that the ruling YSRCP is illegally tapping phones of leaders of opposition parties, lawyers, journalists and activists in the state. The letter comes a day after YSRCP rebel MP K Raghu Rama Krishna Raju alleged on Sunday that two of his mobile phones were being illegally tapped for the past few months by state Intelligence authorities.

Stating that there has been a “concerted attack on the democratic institutions in the state” ever since the YSRCP came to power, Naidu alleged that the YSRCP has been tapping the phones of various persons and “has not followed any due procedure of law” in doing so. 

Citing Section 5(2) of The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and Section 69 of the The Information Technology Act, 2000, Naidu wrote that while the law only allows phone tapping in cases like threat to national security, the YSRCP-led government has been “tapping phones illegally for its own political gains.” 

He wrote that the alleged phone-tapping “directly stands against Article 19 and 21 of fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution, wherein right to privacy is violated.”

Naidu alleged that YSRCP was doing so to retain power, and is “attacking any person or institution raising their voices against the malfunctioning of the Government.” Apart from lawyers, journalists and activists, Naidu alleged that the YSRCP seems to have now targeted even the judiciary, on facing hurdles from the judiciary. 

He also wrote that it appeared that “private persons are also illegally tapping phones using cutting edge technology and tools.”

He further wrote that the phone tapping was likely being done through illegal software, which could pose a “direct threat to national security” in the long run. 

Naidu appealed to PM Modi to “initiate immediate and stern action in order to check any further unlawful activities (phone tapping) by the ruling party and private persons in Andhra Pradesh.” He asked the PM to “order an enquiry by a competent body of the Government of India to check the illegal acts of phone tapping in Andhra Pradesh.”

On the other hand, YSRCP rebel MP K Raghu Rama Krishna Raju wrote to Union Home Secretary A K Bhalla alleging that he was getting threatening calls from strange numbers displaying codes of Romania, Denmark, Switzerland, South Korea and Spain.

"Kindly instruct the authorities concerned to investigate from when my phones are being tapped and identify the persons responsible for such criminal activities,” the MP requested the Home Secretary.

“For the last few months, I am getting frequent disturbances and noises in my mobile phones and I reliably learnt that our state Intelligence department is tapping my phones, which is a blatant violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution,” he said in the letter, accessed by PTI.

Referring to the various parliamentary committees of which he is a member, Raju said there would be confidential and classified information shared and discussed in telephonic conversations with colleague MPs and Parliament staff.

Any leak of such confidential information would not only be a serious impediment to the performance of my duties and obligations but also would be detrimental to national interest, the MP, who is also chairman of the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Subordinate Legislation, averred.

Raju has been critical of the YSRCP for some time now and had a verbal spat with the party legislators from West Godavari district.

The YSRCP has approached the Lok Sabha Speaker seeking his disqualification, while Raju got Y category security cover from the Central Armed Police Force after petitioning the Union Home Minister.