New Delhi: Amid outrage over the Rajasthan government's admission that phone tapping did take place during the attempts of alleged horse trading, chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday justified the decision saying that they were done after approval of the competent authority under legal provisions.
"I myself have been levelling allegations against the Central Govt. that the whole country is scared today. People are afraid of talking on phone. They call back to connect through WhatsApp/facetime for fear that their conversation is being taped," Gehlot said in a statement posted on Twitter.
"There is no such tradition in Rajasthan. There are laws for telephone interception and telephones are intercepted only under the provisions of these laws.
Telephones are intercepted after approval of the competent authority under the provisions of Indian Telegraph Act 1885, Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Rules-2007 and IT Act 2000. The Govt. does not interfere in it at all," he added.
The admission of phone tapping came eight months after audio clips of alleged horse trading and accusations that the BJP was trying to topple Gehlot’s government.
The government confirmation came in reply to a question asked during the assembly session in August last year. The government in its reply posted on the Rajasthan assembly website said that phones were tapped after taking permission from the appropriate authorities.
The conversation in the audio clips revolved around toppling the Congress government and exchange of money. However, no voice test of the leaders was done.
The Pilot camp had accused the Gehlot government of tapping phones of some MLAs staying in Jaisalmer but the government had at the time denied that it was intercepting calls of MLAs.
The opposition BJP has demanded a CBI enquiry and Gehlot's resignation.
Rajasthan BJP president Satish Poonia said said the chief minister, the government and officials had all denied interception of calls when this issue came up last year. The chief minister had stated in the assembly that Rajasthan does not have such a tradition of phone tapping.
“The chief minister lied about this in the assembly, the facts were twisted… the chief minister is guilty, he should resign on moral grounds. The CM is also the home minister. He should get a CBI inquiry done in the matter,” said Poonia.