Phone tapping: Position in India

cellphoneLast month both the houses of the Parliament were in a state of upheaval over a phenomenon called ‘phone tapping’. Gradually media converted it into yet another national issue, but it got muddled with the simultaneous Indian Premier League controversy and left people wondering about the intricacies of phone tapping. So here is everything you might be like to know about the concept in question!

What is Phone Tapping?

Phone tapping means secretly listening or/and recording a communication channel (esp. a telephone) in order to get information. It is also known as ‘wire-tapping’ in some countries (primarily in USA). It can only be done in an authorized manner with permission from the department concerned. If it is undertaken in an unauthorized manner then it is illegal and will result in prosecution of the person responsible for breach of privacy.

What is the required procedure for Phone tapping in India?

Both, the Central and the State Governments have a right to tap phones under section 5 of Indian Telegraphic Act, 1885. There are times when an investigating authority/agency needs to record the phone conversations of the person who is under suspicion. The authority/agency per se does not have privilege of tapping calls of anyone they fancy. It is supposed to seek permission from the Home Ministry before going ahead with such an act. Specific reasons have to be mentioned in the application, also it must be explained that how tapping will help in further investigation of the case. The ministry considers the request and grants permission if it the reason specified seems fit, otherwise the request is denied.

If the agency/authority is granted permission to tap the calls then it contacts the service provider of the telephone/mobile being used by the suspect. Every service provider possesses technology required for phone tapping. The service provider moves ahead with the specified task and provides data to the investigating agency/authority.

What can be done tapping takes place in an unauthorized manner?

By Nikita Anand on May 12, 2010 · Posted in Informative

33 Comments | Post Comment

Sanjeev Nanda says:

Phone tapping is indeed violation of right to privacy, but its definitely one of the most efficient ways of keeping a watch. When this tapping issue came into the limelight, im sure 80% of the politicians must have got scared to the soul. We need to instill this fear in the minds of the people so that they refrain themselves and atleast think 100 times before using technology for their vested interests.

Posted on May 14th, 2010

Tulika says:

That was a good chunk of info.

Thanks Nik ! :)

Posted on May 16th, 2010

Nikita Anand says:

Thanks dids!

Posted on June 4th, 2010

Prabakaran says:

Hi Nikita,

I have been harased since quiet some years. All my communications are tapped (mobile, email and I am under observation every second). Not even a criominal (like Binladon) would be treated like this. Even, my job is under trouble always…

Can you suggest me on what to do on this…?

Prabakaran (9922382823)

Posted on August 23rd, 2010

Nikita Anand says:

Mr. Prabhakaran,
First you need to mention who is tapping your phone calls and in what way you are being harassed?
How is your phone tapping related to your job being in trouble?

Posted on August 25th, 2010

Prabakaran says:

Hello Nikita,

I hope the service provider is tapping the cell phone. When I dial a call on my mobile I could hear 'click' sound or some parallel disturbance though the line is clear. At home, my neighbor (from upper floor) keep on making noise and I am getting SMS at around 3 am IST from Idea subscriber. Even what ever I speak over phone are discussed by my colleague. These things make me annoying and difficult to concentrate on my work.

If you can suggest me what can be done on this would be more helpful.

Thank you…

Posted on August 26th, 2010

Nikita Anand says:

Mr. Prabhakaran,
The facts which you have narrated seem to be unrelated to each other. If your colleagues are discussing what you spoke on the phone that means may be your employer is the one responsible or it could be mere gossiping among your colleagues. I don't think if your neighbors are boisterous and you receive a message at 3 am it implies that your phone is being tapped.
Though its possible that your phone is being tapped. If you are absolutely certain that your phone is being tapped then you can use the means mentioned in the last paragraph of this article.

Posted on August 27th, 2010

Prabakaran says:

Ms. Nikita,

I read your reply and thanks for your valuable time.


Posted on September 17th, 2010

mohamed says:

Dear Ms Nikita,

I do have the same issue of Mr prabakaran. same kind of things happens in my office . i have doubt on my HR and my management. They have a feeling that i am communicating to owner of the company as there is huge corruption happening openly in the company. Second thing they spread gossip that i am leaking company information to competitor. I am really mentally disturb by this kind of words.

the main factor which made me confirm that my phone is tapped is , I made a compliant to vodaphone relationship manager , who said in two days he will reply to my mail, but he took 25 days to reply after I had a long follow up and fight with him. His response was rude manner, I have recorded the conversation I had with him.

Is there any possibility with help of RTI act I will be able to get information who is tapping my call,

I am confused and really mentally disturbed , for the name only I am working here.


Posted on September 28th, 2010

Nikita Anand says:

Mr. Mohamed
As for the company, you can approach the Consumer Forum for poor response to customer grievance.
Your phone cannot be tapped in an unauthorized manner. The phone-tapping cannot be done by order of Director-General of Police or Inspector-General (intelligence) or Commissioner of Police. In the event of unauthorised phone tapping, the service provider will be liable for punishment. RTI might not be the best option.
You can lodge an FIR in the nearest Police station if you are very sure that your calls are being tapped by your company.
Also, You can approach the Human Rights Commission.

Posted on September 29th, 2010

mohamed says:

Dear Ms nikita,

Thank you very much for your kind reply. But some of my friends told RTI will help me in this aspect. I don’t have any evidence to prove. But incident confirms the phone tapping. I will try the way you have guided.

Thanks for your valued time also I highly appreciate the efforts of this website and the authors.


Posted on September 29th, 2010

Mukesh Singh says:

I am Mukesh Singh. Few days back i was talking to a friend and in that conversation i have used wrong words for his girlfriend. I want to know whether those conversation can be used as evidence for charging any case against me or since they have tapped my conversation i can go to court against them.

Posted on December 6th, 2010

minita says:

Hi Nikita,
I own a blackberry phone and as we all know its the best business phone having strict privacy policies. I just wish to know if there is anyway of tapping or extracting informations from my blackberry phone. Every day I send and receive important business mails which are highly confidential and i cant afford to get tapped. kindly oblige by answering back on the same.

Posted on January 7th, 2011

Nikita Anand says:

The mails can only be accessed by the Government if the need arises.. (e.g. If you are suspected of some illegal activities.)

Posted on January 28th, 2011

Mitali ghosh says:

Hi Nikita,
Is it possible to tap conversations and BBM chats (I own a blackberry) how authentic are those mobile tapping softwares available online like for example etc.. can anyone tap my phone sitting in USA?I have doubts.. how to find out if someone is tapping my mobile phone.Please help!!

Posted on February 5th, 2011

kumar says:

Hi Nikita, I have few doubts about phone tapping. First of all phone tapping is a covert act. We will not know who is doing, from where is doing, why is doing and finally how is doing? I have done research on this phone tapping for the last 15 years, and to my shock that phone tapping is prevalent across the country and 99.99% of them illegal tapping. This is being done on ordinary person like you and me to the most important person of the country i.e. Prime Minister. No need to mention about the people like CMs, Ministers, MLAs, MPs, Industrialists, Businessmen, Social Activist, Advocates, Judges, Film Stars. But who is doing all these things. If you read recent Times of India (Perhaps a year back), huge number of phone tapping equipments were imported to India. My main concern is also not about the phone tapping, but the criminal use of that information to torture people. Observing the situation, I believe that there is only one organization that is responsible and they are working like a mafia who want to control our people and country through this information theft. I am writing a blog at Thanks, Anjanee Kumar, Hyderabad, Phone +91 9493191297. I will crack this puzzle soon and try to come out with more facts on this.

Posted on February 23rd, 2011

Nikita Anand says:

I agree with you Mr. Anjanee Kumar. Phone tapping is a wide spread nuisance and needs to be checked with stringent laws and stronger measures.

Posted on February 23rd, 2011

tauqee ahmad says:


When you know who is tapping a phone you can lodge a FIR or go to human rights but what if you don’t know who is tapping your phone?

Posted on March 28th, 2011

Anonymous says:

My employer taps phones at the office and has audio and CCTV cameras in every room apart from every keystroke typed on the computer and hacks personal emails after extracting email id and password by capturing keystrokes. I have left the company due to his unethical practices and his paranoid nature. I suspect he is tapping my mobile phone : when I receive a call on my mobile in my house, it is as if I am on speakerphone – this happened every time I was in the office. What steps do you advise?

Posted on March 29th, 2011

Nikita Anand says:

Mr. Ahmad,
The question you raised is good. There is no legal provision in my knowledge which serves as a solution to your problem. But I believe if you have reasonable apprehension that your phone is being tapped, you could request the police to trace the bug by employing modern means of detection.

Posted on March 30th, 2011

abhinav says:

hi nikita, can you tell that wether these mobile phone oprators like vodafone,airtel,idea etc record our calls without our permission??
i am a normal student age 21..
i hope to hear from you soon

Posted on April 24th, 2011

Abhi says:

Is it legal to the other party (whom i have called) to record my conversation?

Posted on April 27th, 2011

anand says:

Hi Nikita,
Even online there are E-surveillance projects like national grid (NATGRID) which i beleive doesn’t has specific rules and Laws .yet E-surveillance need is justified in the age of cyberwarfare and cyberterrorism.Even America which boasts of civil liberties has a bill called the “kill switch bill” which will give the U.S President emergency Powers over the Net. As u had rightly pointed out communicative data (wheteher thru phone or net) can be accessed by the Govt as and when the need arises.

Posted on May 7th, 2011

Vani says:

HI Nikitha,
Phone tapping is the biggest problem that most of the people are facing. My home town is hyderabad, I used to use N75 later Iphone when I was in my previous organisation at Bangalore. I used to feel my calls were getting tapped. What ever communication I used to do with my parents after the office hours who were in Hyderabad. My colleagues used to discuss the same the next day in the office. It was really an harrasment to me. It was not the case that happened just for one or two days to think its just a coincidense and to ignore. I faced this issue for about three years. It is a big disturbance for any body if the things happen like that. Things became so worst that I was afraid to use my own mobile for communication. Whta kind of action can we take and on whom shud we take… when we dont know who is tapping the calls.Even I discussed the same with my friends many times. But the issue is we were not aware its so easy to tap the calls of the common people, until I came across the present call tapping problems in the news. I feel I am still facing the same again now.

Posted on May 11th, 2011

Nikita Anand says:

Please file a formal police complaint regarding this. I cannot assist you practically.

Posted on May 11th, 2011

SamSon says:

Hi Nikita,

I am working in Admin dept for a KPO, we have international clients and have signed agreements in regards to DATA security. Staffs are not allowed to use mobile in office. In that case barging/tapping office phone to check DATA leak Illegal or for administrative prupose?

Please let me know .thanks

Posted on May 12th, 2011

Deepak says:

Hi Nikita,

I understand phone tapping is illegal in India but in situations where calls are recorded by informng the party upfront ( for example : call centers etc), is that legal?? Are there any special permissions to be taken from the govt to record calls in such a manner? Mnay Thanks

Posted on May 23rd, 2011

Rocky says:

I live in USA and it seems my phone is being tapped by someone in india as what every i speak to my friends i recieve a message saying i told you dont talk to manny people. please help me what should i do. should i file a police complain in US where i live or should i go to Indian Embassy and file a complain. will culprit be caught

Posted on June 10th, 2011

Revathy says:

My mobile phone is being tapped by my employer. he made me listen to the recorded version. How to approach the court with proper evidence? Who can be approached for getting the evidence before I move legally?

Posted on June 10th, 2011

Shashi Kant says:

Hi Ms Nikita

I wish to know what legal action I can take if I found some one had tapped my conversation & I have solid proof for the sane….
Please advise


Posted on March 14th, 2012

ashish says:

Nikita ,….
great job…….

Posted on October 2nd, 2012

Ram says:

A conversation between me and my trouble some tenant has been tapped and recorded by the tenant. Is it amount of Right to privacy of myself. 1. It is considered as Phone tapping or not.
2. Kindly clarify whether the unauthorised phone tapping is treated as civil or criminal offence.

Posted on November 18th, 2012

venkatesh bubberjung says:

A good article Nikita. I did go through the pages of this site. Very interesting. It is pleasing to know that there are many who are serious students of law.

Wish you all the best.



Posted on May 16th, 2013