Case registered in mass phone tapping in Himachal

Shimla, June 26 (IANS) The vigilance and anti-corruption bureau of Himachal Pradesh Wednesday evening lodged a first information report (FIR) in the infamous "phone tapping" case pertaining to the previous BJP regime, an official said here.

"A case has been registered against unidentified people under various sections of the Indian Telegraph Act and the Information Technology Act," Additional Director General of Police Prithvi Raj told IANS.

Earlier, Deputy Inspector General A.P. Singh, who headed the probe panel to look into the mass phone-tapping issue, had recommended the registration of an FIR.

The government has accused the Prem Kumar Dhumal-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of tapping certain telephone numbers unauthorisedly and illegally through the state CID and the vigilance department.

Dhumal, however, refuted the charges and said the government should conduct a probe through a sitting high court judge.

The total number of phones tapped, mainly of Congress leaders, government functionaries and journalists in violation of the Indian Telegraph Act, was over 1,300, said officials.

Of these, the home department had granted permission to tap only 170 phones, they said.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had also accused the previous government of tapping his phones and bugging his rooms.

"While Dhumal was the chief minister, he was helped by then director general of police D.S. Manhas, his successor I.D. Bhandari and some other police officials," the chief minister had alleged.

Bhandari, who was heading the CID when the illegal phone tapping took place, was removed in February.

The computers in the CID and vigilance bureau offices were seized on the night of Dec 24-25, 2012, hours before Virbhadra Singh assumed charge as chief minister.

The chief minister has already said that action will be initiated against all those, including mobile phone companies, who were involved in the surveillance of phones.

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