Phone tapping case: Telangana HC dismisses petition of suspended intelligence officer

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Hyderabad, March 21 (IANS) The Telangana High Court on Thursday dismissed the petition of suspended intelligence officer D. Praneeth Rao, who challenged a lower court’s order handing him over to police custody in a phone tapping case.

Praneeth Rao, the former Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) of the Special Intelligence Branch (SIB), is being questioned by the Special Investigation Team about the allegations that he tapped the phones of opposition leaders prior to 2023.

A lower court had last week remanded him to police custody for seven days.

Challenging the order and complaining that he was being questioned round the clock, the suspended DSP had filed the Memorandum of Criminal Revision Petition.

During the hearing on the petition, public prosecutor P. Nageshwar Rao had submitted to the court that Praneeth Rao was being questioned as per the orders of the lower court.

The High Court was also told that the police station where he was being inquired has all the required facilities. The public prosecutor told the court that the petitioner was speaking to his parents from the phone of his lawyer.

Justice Radha Rami, who heard the contentions from both sides, pronounced the orders on Thursday.

Nampally Criminal Court had last week sent Praneeth Rao to police custody to probe him further for his alleged role in erasing the intelligence information from various electronic gadgets, besides the phone tapping issue.

The official was arrested on March 13 for erasing data by destroying 50 hard disks after the defeat of Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) in Assembly elections. He was suspended and a criminal case was registered against him.

Praneeth Rao reportedly told police that he acted on the orders of then SIB chief Prabhakar Rao.

After the declaration of election results on December 3, 2023, Praneeth Rao disconnected CCTVs, erased data and destroyed electronic devices.

The SIB is an anti-Maoist intelligence unit but Praneeth Rao was allegedly tasked with the job of gathering political intelligence along with a 10-member team. He was allegedly keeping a tab on the opposition leaders and “directly reporting” to Prabhakar Rao.

Prabhakar Rao, considered close to then Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, resigned from the post after the Congress party came to power.

The arrest of Praneeth Rao was made after a complaint by D. Ramesh, Additional Superintendent of Police of the SIB on March 10, alleging clandestine monitoring of individuals, unauthorized access to official records and misuse of intelligence information.



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