A second bug alarm has hit the UPA government - this time, defence minister AK Antony's South Block office on February 16 - when a detecting device that two military intelligence (MI) personnel were sweeping Antony's office with started beeping.
The first bug scare happened last year after finance minister Pranab Mukherjee shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seeking a probe into some adhesive-like substances detected in his office.Reports suggested that immediately after the beep, defence secretary Shashikant Sharma - on the advice of Antony - contacted the home ministry and asked for an Intelligence Bureau team to carry out further checks to ensure that the office was secure.
About two weeks later on Friday, the Centre denied the possibility of any monitoring device having been planted in Antony's office - only after reports on the alleged bugging appeared in a section of the media.
A ministry spokesperson said nothing had been found during routine checks conducted in the minister's office. Ministry officials also denied that any probe had been ordered into the alleged security breach.
Antony himself denied any bugging had taken place in his office.
He said, "The defence ministry is a sensitive ministry… The report about bugging is absolutely baseless."
The matter, however, came to light soon after the long-drawn battle between the army and the ministry over General VK Singh's age came to rest on February 10, following an intervention by the Supreme Court.
Gen Singh's age issue was resolved after the court forced him to withdraw his petition and asked him to accept May 10, 1950 as his date of birth, instead of May 10, 1951.
The army has not yet commented on the development.
A senior army officer told Hindustan Times: "MI men carry out de-bugging drills as a matter of routine. Detecting devices can beep if there's a short circuit caused due to the joining of two telephone lines. It does not imply that monitoring devices have been planted."