Friday, February 11, 2011

Rel Infocomm should have lost its licence, says SC

New Delhi: Continuing with its tough line against illegal interception of telephones, the Supreme Court on Friday said the government should have cancelled Reliance Infocomm’s licence for failing to notice that the authorisation to tap former SP leader Amar Singh’s phones was forged. 
   A bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly said there were too many errors in the forged authorisation letter, and should have led Delhi police to check with the authorities before implementing it.
   “Any service provider worth its salt will not act upon an order like this. Why did you (government) not cancel his licence? Negligence is per se visible. If one acts on this kind of communication, then this is a gross case of negligence and fit for cancellation of licence.” The court added, “Either the service provider is deliberately doing it or it is thoroughly incompetent to detect such discrepancy in the forged order”.
   The court then asked solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam as to why the Delhi police’s probe did not focus on this aspect. Reliance Infocomm, which had said that it received nearly 100 such interception orders from the police on some days, as well as the Delhi police were at the receiving end of sharp observations by the bench which highlighted the striking differences between a genuine and the forged interception order.
   The Supreme Court, which has pushed to plug loopholes in rules authorising tapping, had earlier expressed surprise over the number of authorised eavesdrops on phones before the new guidelines came into force. On Friday, the court said its views were subject to clarification from the government and the service provider, but with the Delhi police investigation not focusing on this aspect, it prima facie appeared that all were in league. Reliance Infocomm will present its side of the story before the court on Monday.

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