"No Privacy Left For Anybody": SC Slams Chhattisgarh Govt For Tapping IPS Officer's Phone
The Supreme Court on November 4, Monday, slammed the Chhattisgarh government for tapping the phone of an IPS officer and his family members. A bench of Justices led by Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee observed that there is ‘no privacy left for anybody’.
The bench lashed out the state government for violating a person’s right to privacy. They asked the Chhattisgarh government to file an affidavit listing all the reasons why they considered phone tapping necessary in the first place.
“What is the need to do this? No privacy is left for anybody. What is happening in this country,” the bench said, adding, “can privacy of somebody be violated like this? Who ordered this? File a detailed affidavit,” the bench said.
Mukesh Gupta, the police officer whose phone had been tapped by the Chhattisgarh government, alleged in the petition that Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel was also involved in the phone tapping incident. He claimed that his wife and his two young daughters also came into the radar. The officer later alleged that the government intercepted his phone calls as he reopened an old case where the accused is a close aide of those in power.
However, Mukesh Gupta is also facing the same charges of intercepting phones of the ministers.
Two IPS officers from the state, including officer Mukesh Gupta, were suspended on February 9, this year, after the economic offences wing of the police filed an FIR against the officer alleging that they conspired against the state during the Civil Supplies Corporation scam probe happened in 2015.
Gupta and Superintendent of Police of Narayanpura, Rajnesh Singh, were booked under sections 193 (false evidence), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender), 466 (forgery), 471 (Using as genuine a forged), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and other relevant sections of Indian Penal Code and under provisions of Indian Telegraph Act.
The case was filed against the two IPS officers after a Special Investigation Team (SIT), established by the Congress government, accused them of intercepting phone calls during the investigation of a civil supplies scam unearthed during the previous BJP government in 2015.
However, officer Gupta had denied all charges and said that all actions in the investigation of the scam were taken in accordance with the law and with due permissions from a competent authority.
Advocates Mukul Rohatgi, Vivek Tankha and Sumeer Sodhi, who appeared for Chhattisgarh government and Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, told the top court that the Gupta’s plea should not be entertained since a similar plea is pending in the High Court against him.
“He is riding two horses. The High Court had asked him to cooperate in the investigation but instead of cooperating he filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court. He is bound by the orders of the High Court and being a senior police officer, he understands that” Mr Rohatgi said.
The phone tapping incident surfaced against the backdrop of a recent incident of snooping that came to light where around 121 journalists, human-rights activists and Dalit activists were being spied on by using spyware called Pegasus, designed by Israeli NSO group.