Phone tapping powers to BSF unlikely

15 Jan 2016 | By Achin Garg

The Border Security Force (BSF) has requested the Centre for phone tapping powers to improve surveillance along the Pakistan border.

The Centre is hesitant about allocating the powers to the BSF saying, "there are too many agencies having phone interception powers. We can't add one more to the list."

Currently, the R&AW, the Revenue Intelligence, Enforcement Directorate and the State Police have phone-tapping powers.

In context: Phone tapping: Privacy vs national security?

Background What is phone tapping?

Phone tapping refers to secretly listening/recording a telephonic conversation to obtain information.

It is provided under section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act,1885.

Any law enforcement authority has to take the permission of the Union Home Ministry by specifically mentioning the reasons as to how the tapping will help the investigation.

Post permission, agency asks the telecom service provider, which facilitates the tapping.

Safeguards Checking illegal phone tapping

Unauthorized phone tapping is a violation of the Right to Privacy provided under Article 21 of the Constitution.

A person who objects to their phone being tapped, can register a complaint with the Human Rights Commission and lodge a FIR in the nearest police station.

Section 26 of the Indian Telegraph Act provides for three years of imprisonment for illegal phone tapping.

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15 Jan 2016Phone tapping powers to BSF unlikely

Signals from mobile towers in Pakistan

According to intelligence officials, 33 areas along Punjab border receive signals from mobile towers in Pakistan which allow drug syndicates and terrorists to communicate easily.

Need Mobile connectivity easing communication

The request for phone tapping came after BSF's role was scrutinized after the Pathankot attack in the first week of January 2016.

Six terrorists had reportedly crossed the Indo-Pak border through the river-tract near Bamiyal sector at Punjab which is manned by BSF.

Earlier, terrorists had used the same route to attack the Dinanagar Police Station on 27 July.

No phone tapping, laser walls instead

41 points have been identified on the International Border (IB) of Punjab which have riverine unfenced stretches and will be covered by a laser wall, which sounds a loud siren when breached.