Breach of privilege no, privacy yes: House panel on Jaitley’s call records

The CDRs of mobile phones of Arun Jaitley were obtained thrice, before the fourth attempt to obtain the CDRs was busted.

Written by Vijaita Singh | New Delhi | Published: May 7, 2015 1:17:05 am
 Arun Jaitley,  Arun Jaitley call recorded, BJP  Arun Jaitley, Delhi Police, Ponty Chaddha, Ponty Chaddha murder, india news, nation news FM Arun Jaitley’s phone was tapped thrice during probe into murder of liquor baron Ponty Chaddha.

The Delhi Police did obtain the call data records (CDR) of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who  was the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha in 2012 through legal means on three occasions, the Committee on Privileges said in a report tabled in the Rajya Sabha Wednesday.

The report said that the call records were obtained during investigation in the murder of liquor baron Ponty Chaddha as his numbers figured in the call records of Chaddha’s brother Hardeep Chaddha, who was also killed in the incident. While on three occasions, the details were obtained from Airtel legally, on fourth occasion, it was done illegally and which also led to arrest of a Delhi Police constable.

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The committee observed that the “act of accessing CDRs in an authorised manner, though sinister and punishable in the eyes of law, does not seem to cause any hindrance or obstruction in the functioning of a Member of Parliament (MP) so as to attract the breach of his parliamentary privileges…there is definitely a breach of right to privacy.”

The committee headed by Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien also cited an instance dating back to 1981 when the then Speaker of Lok Sabha was informed that Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Dr Subramaniam Swamy and George Fernandes, the then Lok Sabha members raised a matter of breach of privilege on account of alleged censoring of their mails and tapping of their telephones and then it was observed that “privileges of a parliament do not place an MP on a footing different from that of an ordinary citizen in the matter of application of laws, unless sufficient reasons provided in the Constitution.”

The committed observed, “the CDRs of mobile phones of Arun Jaitley were obtained thrice, before the fourth attempt to obtain the CDRs was busted. The earlier three attempts to obtain CDRs were legal, however in those cases power to obtain CDRs was casually delegated to the constable level.”

The committee headed by Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien was formed in 2013 after Delhi Police arrested a constable and a private detective for allegedly accessing the call data records of Jaitley in November 2012. The issue had then rocked the Parliament amid allegations that the UPA government was allegedly snooping on Opposition leaders.

It further observed, “In the present case, ie, the fourth attempt to obtain the CDRs of the telephone numbers of Jaitley were accessed by Anurag Singh (private detective) in collusion with one delinquent Delhi Police constable. The investigation into the matter so far could not establish the motive of the accused persons and home secretary and CP, Delhi had categorically denied the involvement of any
government agency in the whole affair.

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