Justice Chandra Dhari Singh said according to Section 5(2) of Telegraph Act, an order for interception could be issued on either the occurrence of any public emergency or in the interest of public safety as per the judgment of the Supreme Court in the People’s Union for Civil Liberties vs Union of India case in 1997.
The apex court had held the “right to privacy would certainly include telephone conversation in the privacy of one’s home or office”. Later, the Puttaswamy judgment had held the right to privacy was protected by the Constitution as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as part of the freedom guaranteed by Part III of Constitution of India.
CBI registered a case in 2010 for an alleged criminal conspiracy. In 2012, a trial court framed charges against the petitioner and other accused. The material submitted against the petitioner was the audio recording of his conversation with accused Sukhwinder Singh and Ketan Desai. According to the petitioner, the alleged recordings and all such material ought to be set at naught.
In its 80-page judgment, the high court noted that as per Rule 419A under Telegraph Act, an order of the home secretary granting permission to intercept telephonic conversations was to be forwarded to the review committee within seven days, which was not done in this case. “Therefore, this court is convinced that the special judge, while passing the impugned orders, has totally ignored the provisions of the aforesaid rules,” it added.
The tape records of the calls are not admissible since the due procedure for such interception wasn’t followed, the judge pointed out. “Even the same has not been verified in the FSL (forensic) report. No further witness/evidence to implicate the petitioner is on record.”