After disagreeing with the state DGP over the appointment of the nodal officer for accessing call data records (CDR) for investigations,the state government handed over the power of accessing records to Ahmedabad Crime Branch again on Tuesday. DCP Crime Himanshu Shukla of the Ahmedabad Crime Branch has been appointed as the nodal officer to seek CDRs from the telecom companies in Ahmedabad. This comes after the state DGP office had received several complaints against the Crime Branch about illegal phone-tapping,surveillance and scanning of CDRs.
The Crime Branch chief JCP A K Sharma said,The nodal officer is the DCP Crime who would be signing the requests to seek CDRs. All police officials who want to seek call records during investigations will require the nodal officers signature.
Before the appointment of nodal officer,the police officers used to acquire the CDRs straight from the telecom companies for the purpose of investigation. The state government,after receiving complaints about the alleged intrusion of privacy,decided to bring a solution by appointing nodal officers.
The state government had brought out a notification on May 16 and appointed all Commissioners and Superintendents of Police as nodal officers to seek CDRs. However,in Ahmedabad,the Police Commissioner S K Saikia handed over his power to DCP Shukla.
However,Shuklas appointment didnt find favour with state DGP Amitabh Pathak.
In a meeting with the Home Department on May 19,he expressed his reluctance to hand over the charge to Crime Branch. He had sought a change of the nodal officer. However,the Home Department was keen to keep the charge with Shukla.
This created difference of views between DGP Pathak and Saikia which was followed by a series of meetings with the Home Department. A tug of war between the DGP and Saikia went on for about two weeks.
A senior bureaucrat of the Home Department,who didnt wish to be named,said,The DGP is right. There have been several complaints against the Crime Branch. This agency is believed to have been misusing the power of accessing CDRs. The complaints also include keeping a tab on central agencies probing encounter cases in Gujarat. He further said,The Crime Branch was accessing CDRs of people without any legal reason. The records have been sought of builders,enterprenuers,corporates,journalists and even police officers.
With complaints pouring,DGP Pathak had snatched the power from DCP Shukla and made ADGP (Intelligence) Shivanand Jha as the chief nodal officer for the entire state to solve the problem entirely. However,the Crime Branch appealed against it,arguing that it faced severe problems in accessing records in the IPL spot- fixing case.
JCP Sharma added,There was some confusion over the nodal officer,but now it has been solved after discussions with the Home Department. The power now rests with the crime branch again.
Meanwhile,in other districts,the SPs would hold the charge of the nodal officer to seek CDRs. DGP Pathak said,The Ahmedabad Commissioner wanted to delegate the work to the DCP (Crime). If he trusts the officer,we are okay with it.