In a previous article, I had mentioned the irony of keeping the state over its citizens in India. Section 5 of the Indian telegraph act can be considered as another tool in this context. It is effective compared to other surveillance used by the state as it allows the state or the Government to intercept communications and to regulate transmission. Section 5 (2) reads-
On the occurrence of any public emergency, or in the interest of public safety, the Central Government or a State Government may, if satisfied that it is necessary or expedient so to do in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with Foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of an offense, for reasons to be recorded in writing, by order, direct that any message or class of messages to or from any person or class of persons, or relating to any particular subject, brought for transmission by or transmitted or received by any telegraph, shall not be transmitted, or shall be intercepted or detained, or shall be disclosed to the Government making the order or an officer thereof mentioned in the order.
In such a law, security and accountability had become the greatest issues. Who is handling these information? Who is intercepting the calls? Are our private calls tapped? Can they be used against us? In the past there have been extensive use of this power of interception of phone lines due to political reasons and gains in the name of national security. Recently the Apex court in order to create accountability in the whole procedure laid few guidelines in the case of Hukam Chand Shyam Lal vs Union of India. But there is a long road ahead to liberation.