The Supreme Court today directed Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) to produce call data records in sealed cover within a week before the trial court in Vijayawada in connection with tapping of phones in the backdrop of the cash-for-votes scandal. Also Read - Coronavirus: Telecom operators urge DoT to offer free access to critical sites
The court directed that the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate would not open it for four weeks. A bench of Justices Vikramjit Sen and Shiv Kirti Singh also extended the time given to the operators to submit the documents by a week and directed the court in Vijaywada to adjourn the hearing in the matter for a month. It also kept the option open for the telecom operators to approach the High Court of Hyderabad for the redress of their grievances. Also Read - 5G in India: Operators may delay rollout by 5 years; Here is why
The apex court was hearing the plea of Bharti Airtel, Reliance, Idea and others under the banner of Cellular Operators Association on whether the operators should obey the orders of the Andhra Pradesh government to disclose documents and electronic data relating to telephone tapping incident. COAI had contended that operators were caught between the conflicting orders passed by the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments and asked the court to intervene in this “extraordinary” situation. Also Read - Trai recommendations on OTT issue likely by February-end: R S Sharma
While the Andhra government wanted the data regarding certain cellular phone numbers to be disclosed, the Telangana government had prohibited them from parting with any information. Telangana even threatened them with prosecution under the Indian Penal Code, Telegraph Act and the Official Secrets Act if they disclosed the information, the plea said. A case was recently registered against Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao for alleged illegal tapping of phones of his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Chandrababu Naidu in the backdrop of the cash-for-votes scam.
The alleged cash-for-votes scam had hogged limelight after emergence of an audio tape of a conversation between Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and nominated MLA Elvys Stephenenson. The tape was aired by some local TV channels. The purported conversation was suggestive of Naidu offering assurances of all sorts to the MLA if he voted for the TDP nominee in the Telangana Legislative Council polls.