Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, obtained phone records of a whistleblower professor’s conversations with journalists without his consent or the sanction of a court or investigative agencies, to charge the faculty member with violating service rules.
IIT Kharagpur obtained call details of conversations between computer science professor Rajeev Kumar and journalists from two leading English dailies, drawing allegations of violation of both law and privacy.
Other than a customer, only government probe agencies and courts — and not employers in general — can demand call details or records from telecom service providers in India. Service providers also swear to ensure customer privacy in their license agreement with the government."I understand that telecom operators are obliged to ensure that personal data of customers, such as phone records, are not available to unauthorised persons," telecom expert Mahesh Uppal told HT.
Under service rules, IIT faculty members are required to obtain the institute’s approval before speaking to the media. IIT Kharagpur has suspended Kumar — who exposed irregularities in admissions to the IITs in 2006, and a secret quota the IIT kept for faculty wards — on a slew of charges, including speaking to journalists without authorisation.
But Kumar has now filed a complaint with both the police and the BSNL — his service provider — after the IIT obtained his call details. “I would not like to comment on the matter at present,” IIT Kharagpur officiating registrar TK Ghoshal told HT when asked why and how the IIT obtained Kumar’s call records.
The IIT in its chargesheet on Kumar has accused him of bypassing relevant authorities in trying to purchase a laptop, which the institute claims he was planning to give his son — a charge the professor has denied.
The institute has also accused Kumar of trying to threaten an official with the use of RTI. Kumar has accused the IIT of trying to frame him because of his exposes.