Too little too late on Snoopgate

Modi has been accused of e-stalking an young lady whom he was acquainted with. When the news portals leaked the story (taped conversations between Modi henchman Amit Shah and a police officer), it was generally understood that the revelations would crush Modi. But the Congress goofed up big time. They could not find a judge to conduct the inquiry for 5
Now that they have found a judge at the 11th hour, the allies have deserted ship like the proverbial rats.

Sharad Pawar and the National Congress Party (2nd largest coalition member) has also come out in opposition. Congress now looks isolated on this matter (and also petty and vindictive). Not good enough and most voters will not care at this point.

The Hindu editorial from Nov 23, 2013 examines the specifics of the case and the expectations of privacy of an individual in India (not much but better than the USA).

while the personal nature of the allegations and suspicions over the
motives behind the leak warrant extra care and scrutiny, they cannot
serve to push the troubling questions raised by the surveillance episode
under the carpet.
The surveillance and telephone- tapping appear to
have been ordered by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and
implemented by Mr. Amit Shah, but conversations now made public do not
seem to be consistent with the claim that they were undertaken at the
instance of the young woman’s father to protect her from some
unspecified threat.
Rather, they seem to have been mere
information-gathering exercises.

The law of privacy is inadequately developed in India, but it is
doubtful if the physical surveillance and massive intrusion into the
privacy of the young woman were warranted for any legally justifiable
reason. Telephone tapping is an altogether new dimension. The
Information Technology Act, 2000, through a 2008 amendment, provides for
interception in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of the
country, defense, security, friendly relations with foreign states,
public order, and to prevent incitement to a cognizable offence or for
investigation of an offense.

The authorization has to come generally
from the Home Secretary, for reasons to be recorded in writing, and
detailed records have to be kept of the intercepted numbers, and on to
whom the intercepted information was provided.
Given the informal nature
of the Gujarat surveillance and interception, it is a moot question if
these essential procedural safeguards laid down by the Supreme Court to
protect the constitutional and common law right to privacy in telephone
conversations were observed.

The Congress Sunday dared BJP leader Narendra Modi and his aide Amit
Shah, both accused of illegally snooping on a woman architect, to come
clean by answering 10 questions on the entire issue.

that Modi, Shah and the BJP leadership are yet to make public the
“reason, purpose and motive” of tapping the phones and tracking the
movements of a young Gujarati girl, the party said in a statement the
audio tapes brought out by two news portals reveal “shocking, grim and
completely unacceptable level of surveillance”.

Citing the
fundamental right to privacy guaranteed by the Indian constitution, the
Congress asked if Modi and Shah had the right to “conduct surveillance
of the woman as also tapping her phones and those of her friends and
acquaintances with complete impunity in a totally illegal fashion?”

party, while accusing Modi of hiding the fact that he knew the girl for
“close to five years” before he allegedly snooped on her, also demanded
to know the reason behind putting her under surveillance on the basis
of an “oral, undated request” by her parents, as the BJP has claimed in
its defence of Modi.

The Congress also alleged in one of its
questions that the Gujarat government had given undue favours to a firm
floated by the father of the said girl and asked the prime ministerial
candidate, also the Gujarat chief minister to answer the charge.

Congress asked if any public purpose was served by allegedly snooping
on the girl and if the Gujarat government informed other states in which
these alleged activities carried out?

Asking the BJP to reveal
the money spent on the exercise and the resources utilized, the Congress
asked if this was not “stalking” and should it not be tried as an
offense under section 26 of the Indian Telegraph Act, “read with
section-120-B as also section 166 of Indian Penal Code”.


Brown Pundits