Phone tapping NSA: notice to Centre for SIT probe

Phone tapping NSA: notice to Centre for SIT probe

National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Centre on a plea for setting up of a SIT to investigate alleged illegal phone tapping of National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and others by the CBI.

The petition claimed that phones of several prominent officers were also tapped when the CBI was witnessing a feud between its then director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana. It said the issue of tapping of phones was revealed in an application filed in the Supreme Court by CBI DIG Manish Sinha, who was investigating an FIR registered against Asthana.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao sought a response from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the CBI on the petition filed by advocate Sarthak Chaturvedi.

He alleged that the illegal act of "abuse of power" was committed by some public servants working in the agency "for their ulterior motive".

It has claimed that a special unit of the CBI, which handles phone tapping and technical surveillance, was aware of communications between the NSA and Asthana during the latter's feud with Verma.

The former CBI director was removed by a high-level panel headed by the prime minister on January 10.

Chaturvedi's petition contended that Sinha's application filed in the top court also disclosed several crucial facts of an ongoing investigation and "commission of cognisable offence of abuse of powers by public servants".

"Who gave permission to tap the phone of the National Security Advisor? How can these facts come to light in public domain? This is very dangerous for the country," senior advocate Kirti Uppal, appearing for Chaturvedi, contended in court.

The petition has claimed that even the phones of special secretary, RAW and the law secretary were put under surveillance.

Apart from seeking setting up of a special investigation team (SIT), the petitioner also sought framing of comprehensive guidelines for tracing, tapping and surveillance of phone calls along with preparation of stocks and accountability of officials.

However, the plea for framing of guidelines was not pressed after the central government's standing counsel Gaurang Kanth, appearing for the Ministry of Home Affairs, told the court that such norms have already been laid down by the Supreme Court.