New Delhi, Jun 23: As a row rages over the alleged bugging of the offices of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his aides, experts have questioned the use of private agencies by the CBDT for electronic sweep of the sensitive government premises.
They feel that government agencies, more particularly the Intelligence Bureau, should have been deployed for investigating the complaint of bugging. However, they would not enter into a debate on whether the alleged bugging was a result of internecine fighting within the government.
Two former IB chiefs said that IB is the only authorised organisation to handle such security related issues of the Central Government.“It is very unsusual and it is very much in contravention of accepted security rules. Only IB is authorised. IB is the declared security organisation to look after security of the Government of India or its department. Except IB there is no other organisation is entrusted to do such scanning,” former IB chief Ajit Doval said. Asked about what he makes out of the entire episode, Doval refused to comment but added that from security point of view there was nothing.
Senior security expert and former IB chief Arun Bhagat also said that the move to bring in a private agency to scan the sensitive office of Finance Minister and other offices of the Ministry was “unusual” and “out of ordinary”. “Now a days, a lot of emphasis is given to privatisation but allowing a private agency to sweep through such high-level offices is unusual and out of ordinary as responsibility of such a scanning lies with the Intelligence Bureau,” he said.
Bhagat said it was a serious matter because the places where “adhesives” were found were not “classrooms” but offices dealing with sensitive information but the decision to employ private agencies would not have been taken by the Finance Minister but an officer within the CBDT. Asked about his views on the issue, Bhagat said the list of people, interested in listening to what the Finance Minister is saying, would be very long and it will be difficult to track them.
Another former IB chief who did not wish to be named said the matter is more political than security related. Ecohing Doval's view earlier, he said there was nothing to worry as far as security issues are concerned.
A reported bugging of the offices of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his aides in the North Block has raised the hackles of those in government but an Intelligence Bureau investigation into it had “found nothing in it”.
The alleged “security breach” took place in the offices of the Finance Minister and his aides—Advisor Omita Paul and Private Secretary Manoj Pant—and two conference rooms used by the minister, who had reportedly written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in September last year. The letter by Mukherjee is said to have been written after after Central Board of Direct Taxes brought in private investigators to conduct an electronic sweep of the Ministry's VVIP chambers.
Mukherjee urged the Prime Minister to order a secret inquiry into the “serious breach of security in his office” in the form of “planted adhesives” in 16 locations in a possible surveillance attempt. PTI