Telangana phone tapping case: HC Judge, family surveilled during BRS rule, say police

Hyderabad Desk

Hyderabad: The Hyderabad Police have revealed in a counter affidavit filed in the Telangana High Court that during the previous Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) led state government, the accused police officers illegally tapped the mobile phones of several political leaders, a High Court judge, and his family members.

The accused officers also obtained call detail records (CDRs) and internet protocol detail records (IPDRs) of phone numbers belonging to Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee president and current chief minister A Revanth Reddy, as well as others, they said, also adding that the accused officers also prepared profiles of Revanth Reddy’s family members, relatives, close associates, and party members, they said.

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A charge sheet has been filed against six accused, including a suspended DSP of the Special Intelligence Bureau (SIB), two Additional Superintendents of Police, and a former Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP).

These individuals were arrested by the Hyderabad Police on March 13 for allegedly erasing intelligence information from various electronic gadgets as well as for alleged phone tapping during the previous BRS regime.

‘Illegal political surveillance’

In an affidavit submitted to the Telangana High Court, the Hyderabad police stated that the former SIB chief, T Prabhakar Rao (who is absconding), formed an informal “Special Operations Team” within the SIB.

This team was tasked with carrying out specific duties related to political surveillance, with the purpose of benefiting the then-ruling political party and its leaders.

The suspended DSP, D Praneeth Kumar alias Praneeth Rao, and his team developed profiles of hundreds of people and intercepted hundreds of phone calls from several persons, the police stated.

The accused obtained call detail records (CDRs) and internet protocol detail records (IPDRs) of phone numbers belonging to political leaders, a High Court judge and his family, and others, in violation of the Indian Telegraph Act and IT Act. They also deliberately destroyed evidence of their illegal activities, the police said, according to a report by the PTI.

“They made unauthorized requests to telecom service providers for this sensitive information, in clear violation of the Indian Telegraph Act and Information Technology Act,” the police said.

The accused obtained CDRs for the High Court Judge and his wife covering the period from September 10, 2022, to September 9, 2023, and IPDRs from August 8, 2023 to September 7, 2023. This indicates a targeted and sustained effort to monitor the communications of the judge and his family.

Furthermore, the accused deliberately engaged in these unlawful interception activities, fully aware that they were contravening the provisions of the Telegraph Act. They used the illegally obtained information to conduct political surveillance and intelligence gathering to benefit the then-ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) party and its leaders. Anticipating a change in government, the accused subsequently destroyed all evidence of their illegal activities in an attempt to cover their tracks, the police stated.

“Instead of the mandated intelligence collection, all the accused in collusion with their associates in conspiracy have brazenly violated all norms set by the department and put surveillance over targeted political leaders, their staff, family members, journalists, a High Court Judge and his family, businessmen and their employees, bureaucrats both serving and retired, only for the purpose of serving the needs of a political party in power at that time and its leaders for their ulterior personal agenda of retaining power by winning the elections,” the affidavit said.

Accused didn’t cooperate with probe: Police

The High Court was informed that the arrested accused in the Telangana phone-tapping case did not cooperate well during the police investigation.

The scope of the investigation is very deep, and it will be continued further against the absconding accused and their associates, the police said.

The police said that on the discovery of new facts against the arrested accused, and on further investigation of the case against the absconding accused and their associates, a supplementary charge sheet will be filed.

The arrested accused, along with others, have been accused of developing unauthorized profiles of several persons and monitoring them illegally in the Special Intelligence Bureau (SIB). They are accused of using this information in a partisan manner to favour a political party at the behest of some persons. The accused have also been accused of conspiring to destroy records to cause the disappearance of evidence of their crimes, the police previously said.

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