Taking a serious note of allegations of tapping of phones of politicians, senior BJP leader LK Advani has demanded enactment of a new legislation to protect citizens' privacy.
It is a "shocking report describing how the Government of India has been making use of the latest phone tapping technology to prepare records of telephonic conversations of prominent political leaders including Chief Ministers like Nitish Kumar, Union Ministers like Sharad Pawar, communist leaders like Prakash Karat and the Congress party's own office bearers like its General Secretary, Digvijay Singh," he said.
Commenting on the report on phone tapping published in Outlook magazine, Advani, in his blog titled 'Is the Emergency back', said that the "outdated" Telephone Act should be scrapped and demanded that a new legislation be enacted to protect citizens' privacy.
"What is really required in this context is to set up a Parliamentary committee on the lines of the Birkett committee in Britain to examine all aspects of the problem, scrap the outdated Indian Telephone Act of 1885 and replace it by a new legislation which forbids invasion of an ordinary citizens' privacy...," Advani said.
He said a new law should formally recognise the right of the State to use the latest IT devices of interception to deal only with crime, subversion and espionage. The law must provide statutory safeguards which make it impossible for the Government to abuse its powers against political activists and journalists, he said.
Recalling an incident, he said, "This reminds me of an interesting encounter I had 25 years back. In 1985, one morning a stranger arrived at my house carrying a brief case full of papers.
"This brief case, he told me, contained 'dynamite' which could blow up this Government. He opened his brief case and out poured some 200 sheets of closely typed records of telephonic conversations of many VIPS," he said.
However, Advani did not find them as "explosive" as that gentleman seemed to presume. Some of those papers were telephonic conversations between him and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he said.
"What surprised me even more was that those transcripts included tape-recorded conversations not only of opposition leaders but also of eminent journalists and some extremely distinguished VVIPs like Gyani Zail Singh," he said.
Advani's blog mentioned many incidents of phone tapping in the past including a press conference of June 25, 1985, on the 10th anniversary of Emergency by Vajpayee. He said Vajpayee had then referred to large-scale phone tapping that was done during the 19 months of Emergency.