BSNL employee to be punished for leaking call records in Kerala TP murder case

In a high stakes political fight between the opposing fronts in Kerala, it is a BSNL employee who seems to be the one getting the stick.

According to a statement by the government in Parliament, BSNL will punish a Junior Account Officer for leaking call data details of a police officer to the media.

“BSNL authorities are in process of initiating disciplinary proceedings against the official,” said junior telecom minister Milind Deora in reply to a question by Congress MP PT Thomas.

BSNL had initiated an inquiry after Deshabhimani, a daily in Kerala, carried a sensational article proving that a senior Kerala Police officer was making repeated calls to newspaper reporters day after day. The daily claimed that the calls were made to leak details of an ongoing murder investigation and keep the news in the headlines in order to influence the outcome of a crucial bypoll to the Kerala Assembly earlier this year.

Quoting call records of a Deputy Superintendent of Police, a member of a special team probing the highly controversial murder of ex-CPI(M) leader TP Chandrasekharan, Deshabhimani said that Cherian was making repeated calls to journalists on a daily basis even as the investigation was at its height.

In the days leading to the crucial Neyyatinkara bypoll, which could potentially derail the Congress-led government in Kerala, newspapers and TV channels were teeming with news that the police had found evidence that the murder was carried out by the Kerala unit of CPI(M). The media reports have since been singled out as the main reason for the defeat of the Left Front in the crucial by-election.

To counter the allegations, the Left-leaning Deshabhimani conducted investigations to find out who was leaking daily, if not hourly, updates of an ongoing investigation by a special police team, and finally carried out the phone expose.

The DSP filed a case against Deshabhimani and BSNL, alleging that his call records were leaked improperly. A junior BSNL officer and journalists were soon named as the accused in the case by the police.

The TP murder case, in which state CPI(M) leaders were involved according to Police leaks, soon stopped making headlines in the media after the bypoll got over. No state-level CPI(M) leader has yet been named in the case.

Journalists from Deshabhimani have conducted several dharnas and protests against prosecuting journalists for carrying the news.

The case against BSNL and the media house made headlines as it was the first time that a media house was being prosecuted for obtaining leaked call records. The Left Front alleged that the government was not taking any action against its special murder investigation team for seemingly leaking information, even as it went after a BSNL employee for leaking call records.