Constitutional Phone Tapping Law In India Is Needed

Phone tapping in India is regulated by outdated and ancient law known as Indian Telegraph Act 1885 and corresponding rules there under. As per section 5 of the telegraph act, the central government or state government is empowered to order interception of messages. Rule 419 and 419A sets out the procedure of interception and monitoring of telephone messages.

As per Rule 428 of the India telegraphic rules, no person without the sanction of the telegraph authority, use any telephone or cause or suffer it to be used, purposes other than the establishment of local or trunk calls.

However, in practice whatever little safeguards provided by the act are seldom followed. Phone tapping by private individuals in India is rampant and even governmental phone tapping is unaccountable. We have no constitutionally sound lawful interception law in India. Even the Home Ministry of India is considering enactment of a lawful Interception Law in India.

It is suffice to say that this unconstitutional phone tapping in India and illegal e-surveillance in India is a “constitutional failure of India”. India urgently needs a valid phone tapping law. The central monitoring system project of India (CMS Project of India) is also not supported by any legal framework.

This is the real problem for the CMS Project of India. We have no dedicated privacy laws in India, data security laws in India and data protection laws in India. Further, the CMS Project of India is also beyond the “parliamentary scrutiny”.

Further, we have no e-surveillance policy in India. Even phone tapping in India is done in an “unconstitutional manner” and even by private individuals with or without governmental approval.

Recently even the Supreme Court of India took a serious note of the growing and blatant incidences of privacy violation in India by Indian government and private individuals/companies supported by it. Supreme Court went upto the extent of saying that no person living in India is safe from privacy violations and omnipresent forgeries prevalent in India.

The present practice of Indian government regarding phone tapping, e-surveillance and e-interceptions is far from being legal and constitutional. India urgently needs a constitutionally sound lawful interception law. Let us hope the Supreme Court would bring some order in the otherwise chaosed banana republic of India.