Suspended after phone tapping,Judge questions CD sourcehttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/suspended-after-phone-tapping-judge-questions-cd-source/

Suspended after phone tapping,Judge questions CD source

The HC has asked the respondents to file their response within three weeks.

In September 2011,an Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADJ),Kurukshetra,Haryana was placed under suspension by the Punjab and Haryana High Court for using a “secret” mobile phone through which he allegedly maintained contact with affluent persons.

The suspension was ordered chiefly on the basis of a compact disk (CD) containing conversation between the Judge (presently suspended) and his relative.

Now consider this: the source of the CD and who tapped the Judge’s phone is unknown to the Judge and to the High Court.

The High Court authorities and the service provider,when quizzed,have admitted that neither the High Court nor the service provider company ordered phone tapping. In fact,during the cross examination of one of the High Court officials,it was stated that the CD was “ supplied by an unknown informer” and that the High Court “had no knowledge about the source of preparation or authenticity of the conversation”.

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Last month,the High Court asked the Judge to give his voice samples to the Centrel Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) to find out whether the voice in the CD is of the Judge. Crying foul,the Judge Monday moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court challenging this order.

Stating that since “the origin,authenticity and contents of the CD is under a cloud”,the High Court has erred in asking him to give his voice samples. Taking stock,a division bench issued notices to the High Court (administrative side) and the High Court Judge who is holding the enquiry in the case. Notices have also been issued to Central,Punjab,Haryana and Chandigarh governments asking them to report whether any permission was given by any of the investigating agencies of the state to tap his phone.

The suspended Judge had also made a demand to stay the High Court’s order asking him to give his voice samples. The demand was turned down by the division bench. It is arguably for the first time that a suspended lower court Judge has raised the issue of “illegal phone tapping” which formed the basis of his suspension.

Officials of the High Court and the mobile service provider were quizzed in presence of the enquiry officer (High Court Judge) in the case. Significantly,the Judge claims to have voluntarily disclosed,when initially questioned in 2011 by the High Court,about the “secret” mobile phone he was using.

Months after he was questioned by the Registrar,Vigilance he was issued a charge sheet by the High Court for “using a secret mobile phone,unlawfully accepting obligations of his relative by accepting the mobile phone,maintaining contacts with affluent persons and making frequent calls to them”. Interestingly,the chargesheet nowhere discloses the source of the CD.

Trying to find out the source and the author of the CD,the Judge has asked the High Court to direct the states to find out “who had permitted” the phone tapping. Opposing to give his voice samples,the Judge has stated that “in the absence of any permission,the said tapping is illegal and cannot be looked into”.

The HC has asked the respondents to file their response within three weeks.

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