Singh rules out JPC probe into phone tap

Singh rules out JPC probe into phone tap

P Chidambaram speaks in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi on Monday. PTI

“JPC for what? It is not a fit case for JPC,” Singh said when asked about the Opposition demand. While the Prime Minister had agreed to make a statement in this regard in Parliament, he could not do so, as the two Houses were repeatedly adjourned by the vociferous Opposition members. “I don’t think there is any need for the JPC. JPC is a very serious issue. We can’t rush to such a conclusion in haste,” he said.

Singh noted that Home Minister P Chidambaram had explained the phone-tapping allegations in Parliament.

Chidambaram, speaking in both the Houses “categorically” denied that the government had ordered the tapping of phones. In identical statements in both the Houses, Chidambaram said the government had investigated but found “nothing to substantiate” the phone-tapping allegations reported in “Outlook” magazine. “I wish to state categorically that no telephone-tapping or eavesdropping on political leaders was authorised by the previous UPA government. Nor has the present UPA government authorised any such activity,” Chidambaram maintained.

The home minister said under the Telegraph Act and the IT Act each case of monitoring of telephone or electronic communications has to be approved by the Union home secretary personally and is subject to review by an oversight committee chaired by the Cabinet secretary.

As the  Opposition forced adjournment of both the Houses seeking the JPC probe, the Lok Sabha witnessed simultaneous shouting from the Opposition benches as soon as the proceedings started on Monday morning. Amidst rising din, BJP Parliamentary Party Chairman L K Advani said the bugging of phones was a throwback of the Emergency days. It was unconstitutional and against the Supreme Court guidelines to tap phones, he said citing a report published in a magazine.

Insisting on a statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Advani said, “this is extremely serious, and I want a “clear’ statement from none other than the Prime Minister that the government will not do any phone-tapping in the future.

The CPM, the CPI and the JD (U) also joined the chorus on the telephone-tapping issue. But the BSP, expected to help out the government on the Finance Bill on Tuesday, did not actively participated in the protest.

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