MHA To Seek Legal Opinion Over Essar Phone Tapping

20/06/2016 10:26 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
Vivek Prakash / Reuters
Employees walk past an Essar Group logo outside their headquarters in Mumbai May 20, 2013. India's Economic Times newspaper said the Essar Group conglomerate would sign a financial agreement with China's China Development Bank and China's largest oil and gas producer PetroChina Company during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's trip to India. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash (INDIA - Tags: BUSINESS LOGO ENERGY POLITICS)

The Home Ministry will seek legal opinion on the issue of alleged tapping of telephone conversations of some top industrialists and politicians by the Essar Group before ordering a probe into it, a senior official said on Monday.

The Prime Minister's Office has forwarded to the Home Ministry a complaint of lawyer Suren Uppal alleging that the Essar Group had ordered its former security chief Albasit Khan to tap into its business rivals' telephone conversations during Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

There are a few issues which need to be clarified like whether there is anything actionable on illegal telephone tapping, was there any violation of the Indian Telegraph Act and does anyone, whose phone was tapped, have to file a complaint or whether the government has to suo motu order an investigation, the official said.

To get a clarity of all these issues, the Home Ministry will seek legal opinion, the sources said, adding the matter will be discussed with Home Minister Rajnath Singh to chalk out the course of future action.

The complaint was received today from the PMO in which a complainant incorporated call logs for purported conversations of Mukesh and Anil Ambani with Directors/Promoters of the two companies and other senior officials as well as conversations that show how business rivals reach out to politicians to seek favours.

The complaint also mentioned purported conversations of senior officials of the Vajpayee PMO, former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra and the then Prime Minister's foster son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya.

The name of present Home Secretary Rajiv Mehreshi, who was posted in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs also figures among the officers whose phones were allegedly tapped.

Essar has denied any wrongdoing.

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