Home | Legal Advice | Civil Law Cases | Phone tapping in India under Indian Telegraph Act

Phone tapping in India under Indian Telegraph Act

Shivendra Pratap Singh


16/06/2021/ 11:17:32 PM

Reading Time:

Question: I am a social activist and fighting against the discriminations of poor people in India. My question is relating to phone tapping by the Government of India. Due to my social activity government is facing problem. So it is tapping my phone to gather evidence. I want to know how to tap phone calls in India? It is a breach of right to privacy. I have a right keep my privacy secure but government is violating it. How to know if my phone is tapped by government?

However I am using Jio and Airtel SIM cards. Both are private cellular providers. So does is possible to keep my phone on surveillance? This is a gray area of our society that when an underprivileged person is trying to rise the government agencies start suppressing them. My phone calls are under the scanner of the government and I’m very much afraid about the security of my life. 

Question from: Karnataka

Unless you have any evidence of phone tapping you cannot raise allegations against the government. Phone tapping is a very serious matter and directly connected to the fundamental right of the citizen. If the government is tapping your phone call without compliance of legal procedure it violates the fundamental right i.e. right to privacy.

Right to privacy is an integral part of the right to life and personal liberty. Right to life and personal liberty is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. But article 21 also enumerates that the state can deprive a person from such a right by making a just, fair and reasonable law.

Indian Telegraph Act 1885

Section 5(2) of Telegraph Act empowers the central and state government to intercept and record a phone conversation. The government can tap phone calls in the interest of public emergency, public safety, sovereignty and integrity of India. Hence, the government cannot tape your phone on any ground other than those mentioned in Section 5(2).

Thus the right to privacy is not an absolute right. The government can tape any phone calls after recording the reason thereof. You cannot say in such a casual way that the government is tapping my call. What evidence do you have to prove this allegation? If you are not doing any illegal act then the state will not record your phone. You are suspecting that the government is tapping your phone. Hence, you should file a RTI and gather information. 

How to know if my phone is tapped?

I can know about the phone tapping through the RTI. TRAI will provide the information about your phone tapping. TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) is a government body which regulates telecom services in India. Jio & Airtel are private entities and RTI application is not enforceable against them. Therefore, these private telecom operators will not inform you about phone tapping.

Also read: Can I get call details under RTI Act

But TRAI will gather information from these private telecom operators. It will provide the information to you regarding whether your phone has been kept on surveillance or not. 

Section 2(f) of RTI Act states that any information relating to a private body which is accessible by public authority is an information under the RTI Act. Therefore, the information about your phone tapping will come under the purview of RTI Act because TRAI can access that information. 

What to do when government is tapping phone call

If you get proof that the government is tapping your phone call then you can file a writ petition before the High Court. File a writ under Article 226 of constitution of India for infringement of fundamental right. When there is no threat to the public safety or there is no public emergency to tape your phone then the phone tapping is illegal. 

In K.L.D. Nagasree vs Government of India (2006) the Andhra Pradesh High Court has held that occurrence of any public emergency or existence of public safety interest is mandatory under Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885. 

The High Court will examine whether your phone tapping is in the interest of public safety or emergency. If the hon’ble court finds that no such public safety exists then the court will grant a huge compensation to you and punish the responsible officer of the government.

shivendra pratap singh advocate

Shivendra Pratap Singh


Practising lawyer in the High Court Lucknow. You can consult on Criminal, Civil, Matrimonial, Writ, Service matters, Property, Revenue and RERA related issues.

Can the tehsildar issue a succession certificate?

Question: Whether Tehsildar is competent authority to issue succession certificate to collect life insurance policy. My father's insurance policy claim is matured and we are the legal heirs to collect that amount. Can the tehsildar issue a succession certificate?...

Cancellation of Sale Agreement

Question: Cancellation of sale agreement without consent of party. I executed an agreement of sale for a 497 sq.yards site with a condition that I will get clearance from ULC. I took advance of 2 lakhs cheque and 2 lakhs cash, totalling to 4 lakhs. It's been 22 months...

Landlord does not provide a rent receipt

Question: After making rent payment, the landlord does not provide a rent receipt. Also not picking up calls & responding to messages. What action can be taken against him? Asked from: Maharashtra You should send to him a legal notice on his residential or postal...

Forfeiture of earnest money in withdrawal of tender

Question: I am a contractor and have some tenders in BHEL. The Bhel has forfeited earnest money because I have withdrawn a tender. So I want to know whether forfeiture of earnest money in withdrawal of tender is legal in India. BHEL has published tenders for the...

Arbitration in respect of non-arbitrable issues

Question: Some tenders were issued during last financial year. Tenders were in respect of fencing and drainage on both sides of the road. The department has allotted those tenders to my company. Company has to conduct a survey of land and demarcate slope angle for the...

Mud road on my land :  How to get it back?

Question: Government has laid a mud road on my land a few years ago. I have all documents stating the land where the road is laid belongs to me. We do not know about this. How to get my land back? I have all documents stating the land where the road is laid belongs to...

Can mother execute a registered will

Question: Can mother execute a registered will towards the property which she had received from my deceased father? My father died in the year 2021 and he has named my mother as the 100% owner of the existing house in the registered will. I have 4 older brothers and 1...

Appointment of arbitrator under the agreement

Question: My firm is doing business of gravel supply to the government. I want to know whether the appointment of an arbitrator under the agreement is possible? Our firm got a tender from the public works department of Uttar Pradesh. According to the tender agreement...

Kanoonirai has been advising in legal issues since October 2014. You can consult a lawyer through online media, telephonic consultation and video conferencing.