An Australian national was held at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport allegedly in possession of a satellite phone on Thursday night. He is the second foreigner to be caught with a satellite phone — banned in India — in the space of a month in Mumbai. According to the police, Michael Carton (58) was held at 8 pm on Thursday after Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel noticed a cellphone in his baggage while it was being scanned in the X-ray machine. An examination of the phone revealed it was an Iridium satellite phone, police said.
Satellite phones have been banned in India since 2012 after the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security issued a circular to all airports in the country ordering seizure of satellite phones and detention of their users. The circular had also stated that unauthorised use of satellite phone sets by foreign nationals ‘reportedly out of ignorance regarding the ban’ had ‘serious security implications’. The phones were banned in India after they were found to have been used by terrorists in the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai in November 2008.
After the CISF informed the local police, Carton was booked by the Sahar police station under the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act. However, he was not arrested and asked to attend the Andheri Metropolitan Magistrate Court on Friday.
Lata Shirsath, senior inspector, Sahar police station, said Carton was released on bail by the court. Carton’s lawyer, advocate Prabhakar Tripathi, said his client was allowed to go after the police filed a chargesheet. Carton paid a cash bond Rs 15,000 and was given his passport and luggage back, the police said.
Carton, a native of Victoria state in Australia, is employed with the American natural resources firm AMCI Group. A frequent visitor to India on business, Carton was about to board a connecting flight to Indore on Thursday when he was caught for carrying the satellite phone, the police said. They added that Carton, who works in the firm’s oil and gas management division, was to meet officials of a local software company.
Advocate Tripathi said that Carton’s employers had provided him with the phone for use in emergency situations in remote places where mobile phone connection is unavailable, during his field work. In October, American businessman Edgar Banghrat was caught in possession of a satellite phone at Mumbai airport. The 56-year-old businessman had told the police that he intended to use the phone in Nepal, where he was to go trekking after concluding business meetings in India.