Phone Tapping: 10 SC lawyers serve govt legal notice
Ten Supreme Court lawyers yesterday served a legal notice on the government in order to know what necessary steps have been taken to prevent the incidents of phone tapping and to ensure the right to privacy of telecommunication.
Advocate Mohammad Shishir Manir, head of Law Lab researching law and constitution, sent the legal notice on behalf of 10 lawyers to the authorities concerned, requesting them to inform the notice senders about the measures taken to this effect in seven working days.
If the respondents of the legal notice do not provide the information in seven days, the notice senders will have no other option but to take legal action against them for getting proper redress, without making any further reference, he said in the legal notice.
The lawyer said, in the legal notice, that in recent years the notice senders have come across numerous incidents of eavesdropping and recording of a private telephone conversation from various newspaper reports published in different national dailies including The Daily Star.
The Daily Star, published a newspaper report on May 25 this year, following the surfacing of an audio recording of a telephone conversation between a Superintendent of Police and an Additional Superintendent of Police, both of them have been temporarily suspended over an allegation of making offensive, disrespectful and unsavoury remarks about the Army and Rapid Action Battalion in a sensitive telephone conversation between them.
On May 10 this year a newspaper report was published in The Daily Samakal regarding a leaked audio recording of a telephone conversation that became viral on social media.
The telephone conversation is allegedly between Prof Ali Haider, assistant professor and former administrator of Transport Department of Rajshahi University, and one unidentified person.
From the transcript of the telephone conversation, it appears that Ali Haider is, allegedly, negotiating with one job seeker regarding the amount of bribe to be given for a job.
Ali Haider denied the allegation of any such conversation, Shishir Manir said in the legal notice.
He said that following the "talk of the country" incident of Hefajat-e-Islam leader Mamunul Haq in Royal Resort, Narayangong, the daily Jugantor published a news report on April 3 this year regarding a leaked audio recording of a telephone conversation between Hefajat-e-Islam leader Mamunul Haq and his first wife, along with the transcript of the said telephone conversation.
Also on April 4, the daily Kaler Kantho published a news report regarding another leaked audio recording of a telephone conversation between the alleged second wife of Mamunul Haq, namely, Jannat Ara Jharna, and her son, Abdur Rahman.
A newspaper report was published in The Daily Star on January 30 this year stating that an audio recording of a telephone conversation between Shahin Chaklader, Member of Parliament of Keshobpur, Jessore, and Officer-in-Charge of Keshobpur Police Station has been leaked, whereas, the said Member of Parliament allegedly instructing the officer-in-charge to orchestrate a case of dacoity against one Saifullah, an environmental activist, over a dispute involving a brickfield.
The said Member of Parliament denied having any such conversation and claimed the leaked audio recording to be fabricated, lawyer Shishir Manir said in the legal notice.
He said in the legal notice that as per its constitutional statute, Bangladesh Telecommunication and Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is delegated with the responsibility of ensuring the privacy of telecommunication and upholding the sanctity of Article 43 of the Constitution.
However, the newspaper reports evince the continued and serial failure of the BTRC in carrying out its constitutional duties.
Such regular incidents of eavesdropping and recording of the private telephone conversation goes to show that BTRC is failing to take any necessary actions or preventive measures or carry out an investigation to prevent such breach of privacy of telecommunication.
Such inaction of the BTRC and its gross failure to comply with its legal and constitutional duties is resulting in violation of the citizens' right to privacy in correspondence and other means of communication as guaranteed under Article 43 of the Constitution of the Peoples' Republic of Bangladesh, the lawyer said in the legal notice.
The respondents who have been served the legal notice are secretaries to the ministry of posts, telecommunications and information technology, to post and telecommunication division, and to information and communication technology division, and chairman of BTRC.
The 10 lawyers who served the legal notice are Rezowana Ferdose, Uttam Kumar Banik, Shah Navila Kashphi, Farhad Ahmed Siddiky, Mohammad Noab Ali, Mohammed Ibrahim Khalil, Mustafizur Rahman, GM Muzahidur Rahman (Munna), Imurl Kayes, and Eakramul Kabir.