25,000-40,000 phones under surveillance all the time

At any given time, around 25,000 to 40,000 phones in the country are being tapped by the government, according to numbers given by the home ministry today.

Replying to a question on phone-tapping, junior home minister Gurudas Kamat said 7,500 to 9,000 orders for starting of new phone-tapping are issued every month. The maximum duration of a single order is for six months, though sometimes a second order is obtained for continuation of surveillance, he added.

The number indicates a that at any time 25,000 to 40,000 phones are being snooped on by government agencies. The number of persons being subjected to the tapping, however, would be a fraction of this as each suspected person is connected to two to a dozen phones, all of which are put under surveillance simultaneously.

Kamat also pointed out that all state home secretaries, the highest bureaucrat in the Home Affairs department, has the power to grant phone-tapping permission, as does the Central home secretary.