The home ministry on an average approves 5,000 call interception requests a month based on "justified grounds" made by law enforcement agencies, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.
The interception of telephone conversation is done by law enforcement agencies under provisions in Section 5(2) of Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 read with Indian Telegraph Rules, 1951 amended from time to time, communication and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.
"On an average 5,000 interception orders per month are issued by the Union home secretary on the requests supported by justified grounds/reasons made by law enforcement agencies," he said reply to the question whether over 9,000 phones are tapped every month in the country.
The minister informed the house that the Rule 419A of Indian Telegraph Rules allows lawful interception of phones under unavoidable circumstances.
"In unavoidable circumstances, such order may be made by an officer not below the rank of a Joint Secretary to the government of India, who has been dully authorised by the Union home secretary or the state home secretary, as the case may be.
"Provided that in emergent cases in remote areas, where obtaining of prior direction for interception of message or class of messages is not feasible or for operational reasons, where obtaining of prior directions for interception of messages or class of messages is nor feasible," Prasad said.
The required interception of any message or class of messages shall be carried out with the prior approval of the head or second senior most officer of the authorised security that is the law enforcement agency at the central level and the officers authorised in the behalf, not below the rank of Inspector General of Police at the state level, he added.
But, the concerned competent authority "shall be informed" of such interceptions by the approving authority within three working days and such interceptions "shall be got confirmed" by the concerned competent authority within 7 working days, the minister said.
"If the confirmation from the competent authority is not received within the stipulated 7 days, such interception shall cease and the same message or class of messages shall not be intercepted thereafter without the prior approval of Union home secretary or the state home secretary, as the case may be," Prasad added.