The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Centre, the state government, the CVC, the CBI and the TRAI on a PIL alleging that “with the active instigation of political bigwigs”, an attempt is being made to “tap/keep surveillance on the phones of some of the judges of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh” with a view to “tarnish the image of the prestigious institution of the judiciary”.
Recording that “this public interest litigation has been filed inter-alia contending that as per the newspaper clipping, phone tapping of the mobile phones of the judges of the High Court is taking place”, Chief Justice Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari and Justice D. Ramesh issued notice to the aforesaid, besides the state DGP and certain telecom service operators.
The division bench noted that during the course of hearing, indicating the judgements of the Supreme Court on the point of right to privacy, the counsel for the petitioner contended that on account of passing of some orders by the court, phone tapping of the judges is planned, with the connivance of the government, with the intent to malign the institution. Submitting that one IPS officer is supervising all those activities, the petitioner sought to file an affidavit bringing those facts on record.
The PIL argues that the action of the state and the DGP in making efforts of Phone tapping/surveillance calls of some of the judges and other advocates who are appearing to defend the cases against the state government is in contravention of section 5(2) of the Telegraph Act, 1885 and without following the guidelines mandated by the Supreme Court in People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India.
“It is illegal and a violation of the fundamental right of privacy embodied under Articles 14, 16, 19 and 21 of the Constitution”it is urged.
The plea seeks an independent/time bound investigation by setting up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) with the CBI to find out the truth in the allegations levelled against the respondents.
Further, the petitioner has prayed for stringent directions from the court in framing comprehensive guidelines regarding tracing, phone tapping and surveillance of phone calls along with preparation of stocks and accountability of officials who are responsible.
The PIL also seeks directions to the CBI, the TRAI and the telecom service providers to not to allow any kind of request from any government agency for phone tapping or keeping surveillance on the mobile phones/personal information/data of any individual except in accordance with the procedure established by law.
Read the order here: