Illegal interception of phone calls, often practised by private sleuths to help their clients, could cost them dear. The government is likely to impose a hefty financial penalty of Rs 2 crore on such illegal tapping — a 200-fold jump from the current Rs 100,000.
The provision may form part of a Right to Privacy Bill that is being drafted.
Recently, Delhi police has detected a large number of phone tapping cases by private detective agencies which also extended to some politicians, without proper authorisation.
The Department of telecommunications (DoT) has asked the government to include its proposal for a fat fine in the proposed privacy law.. "In Section 51, financial penalty for unauthorised interception of communication may be increased form Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 crore," said DoT in its comments on the draft Right to Privacy Bill.
Currently, only government agencies are allowed to tap telephone calls. Even they have to take prior permission from the home ministry for it. However, law enforcement agencies including those under the finance ministry and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are allowed to tap phones of any individual for security or operational reasons for 72 hours even without permission from the home secretary.
Officials say if the new bill is in place, a huge penalty will act as a deterrent for private detective agencies that tap phones. Telecom service providers are also expected to be more vigilant in preventing unauthorized phone tapping.
On unsolicited commercial calls (UCC), DoT has proposed that "in case of UCC through telephone calls, the caller shall be punished with a penalty of Rs 20,000 in each case."