Reliance Infocomm defends itself in Amar's phone tapping case

The company, which was pulled up by the apex court for intercepting Singh's phone on the basis of an authorisation letter full of errors, said there was no reason to believe that the letter sent was forged as similar errors were there in earlier letters which were genuine.

Reliance Infocomm, which filed an affidavit in this regard, said a service provider is bound to act immediately on the request and there are chances of serious threat of terrorist attack if non-compliance are on grounds of spelling errors.

The telecom company, whilch filed the affidavit before a bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly, said "it acted in a bonafide manner" on a direction given by the Joint Commisioner of Delhi Police and Home Secretary of NCT government on the authorisation letters which has been alleged to be forged.

Under intense scrutiny of the apex court, Reliance Infocomm today brought noted criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani to defend itself. The company's response came after the court, in the earlier hearing, slammed it for tapping Singh's phone on the basis of authorisation letter which was apparently looking forged as there were gross errors in the letter on which the interception was done.

Responding to apex court's query, the company said there was no reason to believe that the letter sent to it by the authorities was forged as similar errors were there in earlier letters which were genuine.

"I am producing before this court some specimen documents which show that there are spelling and other mistakes in their letters sent to the company," it said while pointing out errors in various letters written to it on the basis of which phone calls of various persons were intercepted in past.

"When a request for interception is received, the service provider is duty bound to comply with the request immediately and there was no provision under which it could send back the request by pointing out such requests.

"I submit that postponing compliance on the ground of inconsequential mistakes like spelling errors may conceivably lead to a serious terrorist attack and the blame may fall on us," the company said.

In the last hearing, the court had pulled up the government for not cancelling the licence of the company for tapping the phone on the basis of a forged document.

"The letters were coming from the senior police officer and Home Secretary, the senior IAS officer. The whole content should have been examined for public safety. It was such a serious matter. This type of order has been acted upon by the service provider. The citizen of this country has no safety. They are subjected to interception by unscrupulous service provider," the bench had said.

Reliance Infocomm had intercepted Singh's telephone between October 22 and December 21, 2005 on the basis of two letters of the "competent authority"  which had several grammatical errors and subsequently it was found that the signatures of officers were forged.

Defending its decision to tap Singh's phone calls, the company said that "it has acted with perfect honesty and care and caution" as required under law. When Jethmalani placed the affidavit on behalf of Reliance Infocomm, the Bench wanted to know whether Delhi Police and Government would like to file any reply.

Solicitor General Gopal Subramnium and Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising sought a week's time which was allowed by the Bench and the matter was posted for hearing on March 8.

The court was hearing a petition filed by the former SP leader seeking a judicial inquiry into the "illegal" tapping of his telephone allegedly at the behest of his political rivals including the Congress party.

The apex court had passed the gag order on the publication and broadcast of the Singh's tapped conversation with politicians, top corporate honchos, and hollywood stars.

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