The privacy legislation,which could have given relief from unauthorised phone taps and snooping,has been put on the back burner due to differences between the ministries of Home and Law and the Department of Personnel and Training.
The Right to Privacy Bill proposed in 2011 after a series of unauthorised leaks was supposed to be tabled in the coming winter session of Parliament.
The Bill aims to safeguard security interests of all affected individuals whose personal data has or is likely to have been compromised by such a breach. It also proposes a punishment of up to five years and/or a fine of Rs 7 lakh for first offence and Rs 10 lakh for every subsequent one. However,the Law Ministry is of the view that certain provisions of the draft Bill override other laws and it will be difficult for the State to implement it.
The draft proposes to make individuals,organisations and agencies accountable for audio and video recording by creating a national body that will ensure the circumstances are exceptional and the recorded data is not misused. It also proposes to set up a central monitoring system to stop illegal phone taps.
The snooping on a woman architect allegedly by the Gujarat police at the behest Amit Shah,a close aide of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi,was apparently in violation of phone-tapping rules. However,in the present setup,the Centre cannot order a probe into the violation.
Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told The Indian Express over phone,We have not sought any report regarding the Gujarat incident and the Centre cannot order any probe. Union and State Home secretaries have been authorised to take action on (illegal) snooping.
The state Home Secretary can order tapping of a phone in a state. To tap phones in multiple states,permission of the Union Home Secretary is mandatory.
Gujarat Police is reported to have tapped the phone of the Bangalore-based architect,whose family hails from Kutch,when she was in Maharashtra and Karnataka as well without authorisation from the Union Home Secretary.