No Home Ministry committee probed call data records case

No Home Ministry committee probed call data records case

By NAVTAN KUMAR | New Delhi | 21 August, 2016
As per an RTI reply given by the ministry, a guideline was issued by the MHA for seeking call data records from Telecom Service Providers.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) did not form any committee to investigate the case related to the unauthorised obtaining of call data records (CDRs) of senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley.

The incident took place in 2013 during the UPA-II regime when Jaitley was the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. The CDRs of Jaitley’s numbers were sought by using unauthorised email ID of the then Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations), New Delhi, in January 2013.

The police had arrested some constables and private detectives in the case. However, they are on bail now. There was considerable uproar over the issue, which was raised in Parliament as well and the then Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had to make a statement on it.

According to a fresh Right to Information (RTI) reply of the Ministry, “No such committee was formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs. However, a guideline was issued by the MHA for seeking CDRs from Telecom Service Providers”. The incident had also brought to light the role of private detectives. There were reports that some of them had destroyed the call records. However, the ministry is apparently clueless about their functioning.

The police had arrested some constables and private detectives in the case. However, they are on bail now. There was considerable uproar over the issue, which was raised in Parliament as well and the then Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had to make a statement on it.

In another response, the ministry said that “at present there is no statutory provision to regulate the activities of private detective agencies in the country”. “As such, no list containing the details of private detective agencies is available with the Ministry of Home Affairs,” it further said. The petitioner Gopal Prasad wondered why the ministry was not taking any initiative to ensure that such unfortunate incident (like what happened in the case of Jaitely) did not happen in future. “A full-fledged investigation would have brought to light many aspects of the case. Also, it is unfortunate that the Ministry of Home Affairs does not have any database of private detectives working across the country,” he added.

The Privileges Committee of Rajya Sabha had earlier said that unauthorised obtaining of call data record  was not a breach of privilege. The committee report tabled last year said the issue was a breach of right to privacy which could be dealt with under the laws of the land. However, after this report, the Delhi Police made it clear that CDRs of MPs cannot be accessed and analysed without proper authorisation. Delhi Police officers will require a written permission from the Delhi Police Commissioner. The case is being investigated by Crime Branch of the Delhi Police, which has filed a chargesheet in the matter.

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