Anxious that the plan to strip the income tax department of its powers to tap phones is not seen as a tussle between the home and finance ministries, the Cabinet Secretariat on Monday insisted that the move was in line with the Supreme Court's directives on wiretaps.
Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar had earlier asked the government to either bar the Central Board of Direct Taxes (to whom the IT department reports) from tapping phones or stipulate restrictions that ensure it does not tap phones in violation of the SC's guidelines.
Home minister P Chidambaram is expected to take a final call on Chandrasekhar's recommendation shortly after consulting finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. There has been speculation over the finance ministry's unease to curtail the CBDT's powers.
"The recommendations made by the Cabinet Secretary reiterate this established legal position, which should not be seen in terms of conflicts between individuals or interest groups," a statement issued by the Cabinet Secretariat on Monday emphasised. Officials said the reference to conflict between individuals "was a euphemism for the reported differences between the two ministers".
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked Chandrasekhar to examine the procedures and mechanism to avoid misuse of interception.