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Corporates or rivals: who wanted Arun Jaitley's call data records?

Who has been snooping on the call data records of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley?

It all began with the arrest of 32-year-old constable Arvind Dabas on 14 February on charges of attempting to access the BJP leader's call data records (CDRs) by using the official email ID of an ACP to send a request to a mobile service provider.

Along with the arrest of a private detective Neeraj Ram, a resident of the Shahdara area of Delhi on Monday, the police believe the duo may have accessed data related to at least 15 prominent people over the last six months, the Times of India reported.

While stating in court that they wanted the police custody of the constable to investigate how he had been using the call data records he was accessing, a Delhi police official was quoted by IANS as saying that Dabas had sought Jaitley’s call records for his “personal reasons”.

Who has been spying on the BJP president's calls? AFP

Who has been spying on the BJP president's calls? AFP

According to the police official, Jaitley’s call records were accessed by Dabas to check his communication with an unidentified man in Uttarakhand, who had promised to settle a property deal in the state with the help of the BJP leader.  Dabas was attempting to check if the man had indeed been in touch with Jaitley.

But things have become murkier with the arrest of the private detective and the police is also looking at whether the recipient of the call data records was a corporate body.

"Several freelance private detectives usually work for private companies and corporates, so we are trying to find out if any corporate was taking out CDRs of politicians and bureaucrats,'' a senior Delhi Police official was quoted as saying in the Times of India report.

The detective has claimed that he obtained call data records earlier to check on the character of prospective brides and grooms but according to the police the detective had paid Dabas in the past to get data related to other people that went beyond matrimony.

Police officials also believe that the constable had accessed the BJP leader's data three times in the past, and he was only caught the fourth time because he mentioned the name of the Jaitley and his son next to their telephone numbers.

Police officials were quoted as saying in an Indian Express report that the duo had been accessing call data records for the last nine months but it was in the last two months that they began seeking more data.

Whether it is a corporate or political body that was receiving the BJP leader's call data records, what perhaps is more disturbing is the ease with which a private detective could access the data with just one insider, that too a mere constable, in the police force. This isn't the first time such a case has emerged with private detectives being caught in the past as well, using either contacts within the telecom industry or police force, to get data that is essentially private.

While the BJP has chosen to target Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde seeking an explanation from him, the larger debate will remain private data is so easily accessible to private individuals circumventing any process of oversight.