In a landmark judgment, the Bombay High Court held that phone tapping is legal only if done in public emergency or a situation of harm to public safety. The court found the three phone tapping orders passed by the Home Ministry illegal. The petitioner, Vinit Kumar, argued that the phone-tapping orders — issued in 2009-10 in connection with bribing a bank official for a loan — were illegal, and therefore could not be used as evidence. Telephone tapping can only be ordered if there’s a public emergency or the tapping is in the interest of public safety, as the Supreme Court had ruled in 1996. In this case, the Home Ministry and CBI failed to prove that interception for bribery charges was required for public safety or emergency. The court ruled the orders as illegal and said that the intercepted material cannot be used as evidence. The court concluded that the CBI and Home Ministry had not followed proper legal procedure for interception. It also found that the interception orders do not meet the Puttaswamy tests, since they did not have the sanction of law and legitimate aim. What the Supreme Court laid out in PUCL case 1. It laid out the only two scenarios in which phone-tapping can be ordered The Bombay high Court relied upon People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India (1996), wherein a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court had said that telephonic conversation in one’s home or office is part of one’s private…
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