Hamirpur, Feb 19 (IANS) Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who has been blamed by the present Congress government for indulging in mass tapping of phones when he was at the helm, Tuesday demanded a judicial probe into the issue.
"(Chief Minister) Virbhadra Singh has been trying to defame me in public by raising issues that have no relevance," Dhumal told reporters here.
The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said the government should conduct an enquiry on phone tapping by a sitting judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court.
Virbhadra Singh said here Monday more than 1,000 telephones were tapped during the tenure of the previous BJP government.
A just-concluded inquiry of the state forensic science laboratory found that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had recorded telephonic conversations between 2008 and 2012 on a large scale.
Most of the telephones were of politicians, bureaucrats and high-ranking officials.
"The privacy of certain political leaders was infringed upon. The number of phones tapped clearly indicated malafide intention of the then government," Virbhadra Singh said.
Reacting to the allegations, Dhumal said the permission for tapping the phones was given by the home department, and the Chief Minister's Office had nothing to do with it.
"Phone tapping is normally carried out by the police to check anti-social activities. I have never given any direction (for phone tapping)," he added.
"If the chief minister thinks that there was phone tapping of politicians, he can order a judicial probe to investigate all the allegations, including against his own (previous) governments," Dhumal said.
Dhumal said the Congress has been raising the phone tapping issue since 2010. "I had written a letter to the president to order an enquiry into the matter as the issue had been raised even by a (then) central minister (Virbhadra Singh)."