BUGGINGBugging someone’s residence or office, or illegally intercepting someone’s phone call is being made a serious offence attracting up to 5 years and a fine of Rupees 1 lakh. The government will soon place in parliament a right to Privacy Bill, which intends to deal a body blow to the illegal business of snooping on citizens using sophisticated devices by individuals and detective firms.

The draft pill lists out measures to protect personal information of citizens, including their private and family life, DNA profiles and fingerprints. The person whose privacy has been breached, he is being given a chance to claim for compensation from the violator.

The framing of the bill has been speeded up after the industrialist Ratan Tata moved the Supreme Court pleading for protection of his privacy and destruction of personal conversations in the Niira Radia tapes, will be ready in less than a month and is likely to be placed in the Parliament in the beginning of monsoon session on August 1.

Under the bill, anyone making public private information about a person gathered through illegal means would be liable for an imprisonment of three years and a fine of Rs.50,000. The fine would also be applicable to an officer of the government or that of an investigation agency, including those engaged in interception of telephones.

The interception of telephones can be authorized only at the Union home secretary or State home secretary level. But in exigencies, it can be done by joint secretary level officials.

In tune with Ratan Tata’s request, the government’s proposed bill provides for means to destroy the intercepted messages after six months, with only those required for investigation purposes being retained.

Report by Alka