The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Centre and the West Bengal government to “unambiguously” inform whether politician Mukul Roy, who recently joined BJP, was being monitored or his calls being intercepted allegedly by the state police. The court’s direction came when it was hearing the former Trinamool Congress MP’s plea seeking a CBI probe into the alleged surveillance and tapping of his phone by the West Bengal police.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru issued notices and asked the ministries of Home Affairs and Information and Broadcasting, West Bengal government and police, CBI, MTNL and Vodafone to file their responses in a sealed cover in two weeks. “Notice issued. Respondents to file counter affidavits unambiguously stating whether the petitioner (Roy) is being monitored or his calls are intercepted by any of the agencies. If so, they should also file the affidavits with reasons in sealed cover,” the court said and listed the matter for hearing on December 7.
It also said that it was open for the authorities to take all legal grounds in the affidavit, including the issue of jurisdiction. During the hearing, senior advocate Arvind Nigam, appearing for Roy, said they have made a representation before the Centre and added “let them (Union and the state) say on an affidavit that they are not tapping my calls.”
Central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan opposed the petition and questioned the jurisdiction, saying if at all any cause of action arises, it should be at a court in West Bengal. The lawyer said no monitoring was done without following due process and the politician’s claim was only that he apprehended that he was under surveillance.
“Today it is one petition that the petitioner apprehends surveillance and if it is entertained, tomorrow 20,000 such pleas will come. Where is the cause for apprehension,” he argued. Senior advocate Dinesh Mathur, appearing for the West Bengal government and police, questioned Roy’s move of filing the petition in Delhi and not in Kolkata and claimed it was a fishing and roving enquiry.
To this, the court asked the Centre and state government to make a statement on record that Roy’s claim was incorrect and it will close the matter. “Everything has checks and balances. Those checks and balances are subject to judicial review. They are public figures and not criminals,” it said.
The plea has also sought directions to Roy’s telecom service providers MTNL and Vodafone to produce the orders, if any, issued by the Centre or the state government to intercept telegraphic messages originating from or received by the leader or any of his relatives. Advocate Kumar Dushyant Singh, who filed the petition on behalf of Roy, has said the CBI should be asked to investigate the “interception of telegraphic messages originating from or received by the petitioner or any of his relatives”.
He said that in case any such order was issued, the court should direct the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to investigate any violation of the ‘License Agreement for Unified License’ by Roy’s mobile service providers.
Roy has alleged that while he was in West Bengal, he always found that the local police were monitoring his movements. The plea has claimed that similar apprehensions were put on record by several other persons including Union minister Babul Supriyo, who does not belong to the ruling party in West Bengal.