Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha writes to Kamal Nath, seeks probe in ‘snoopgate’

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Published: June 16, 2019 5:24:50 PM

Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha has written to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, demanding that a high-powered committee be set up to probe illegal snooping in the state during the previous BJP dispensation.

In a letter to Nath, Tankha cited a petition by Prashant Pandey, whistleblower of the Vyapam recruitment scam, pending in Supreme Court on the matter. (File)

Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha has written to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, demanding that a high-powered committee be set up to probe illegal snooping in the state during the previous BJP dispensation. In a letter to Nath, Tankha cited a petition by Prashant Pandey, whistleblower of the Vyapam recruitment scam, pending in Supreme Court on the matter.

The petition said between 2009-14, online software developed by Information Technology company like Spandan-IT Pulse, registered in the US, could illegally access call detail records, subscriber information, cell tower locations of any person in India, according to Tankha’s letter. This online illegal software was available for anyone who could pay in open market, the lawmaker’s letter said.

“As per personal knowledge of Pandey, around 4,000 police personnel of Madhya Pradesh were using this illegal software for a sum of Rs 5,000 per month,” it said. The petition before the apex court prayed for a direction for CBI investigation into the facts and allegations mentioned in it on pan-India level and to prosecute Information Technology companies and associated agencies which have illegally obtained and disseminated subscriber information.

The petition filed in 2015 is still pending in the Supreme Court and the state of Madhya Pradesh is a respondent, according to Tankha’s letter. Since the last dispensation (BJP-led state government) was “complicit and possibly facilitating” this illegality, not much was expected of them, the Congress lawmaker from Madhya Pradesh said.

“Looking into the seriousness of the matter, the state in its wisdom may appoint a high-powered committee to look into the various facts and allegations made in the petitions filed in public interest,” he said.

The present dispensation, however, looking into the gravity of the situation, to safeguard the right to privacy, which is a fundamental right of a citizen, and to take care of the aspect of national security, should act in promptitude and take corrective steps in accordance with law, so that privacy of a citizen may be respected and issue of national security is not undermined, the letter said.

Later, talking to PTI, Tankha said the issue of illegal snooping is very serious and a thorough probe was needed. “No one knows how many records were accessed as part of this snooping. It is a very serious matter and a probe by a high-powered committee must be there to bring out the truth,” said Tankha.

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