NA passes bill allowing authorities to intercept individuals' phone conversation 

May 20, 2020

KATHMANDU: The National Assembly today passed  the Bill to Amend and Integrate Laws related to Constitution and Operation of Nepal Special Service also known as Special Service Bill.

Lawmaker  Radhe Shyam Adhikari who represents the Nepali Congress in the Upper House of the Palriament  told THT that the NA  passed the bill after removing some of the provisions of the original bill that gave National Investigation Department  authorities broad powers to wiretap and intercept individuals'  digital communications.

Adhikari said that the bill that was passed today by the NA allowed the NID officials to intercept individuals' telephonic conversation or digital communication if they had reasons to believe that the persons involved in the communication were doing activities detrimental to sovereignty and national integrity.

The bill prohibits NID officials from using the intercepted data or message for other purpose.

According to Adhikari, the government officer who would deploy his/her subordinate staffs to wiretap or intercept individuals' communications will have to create an internal  memorandum citing valid reasons for their intended activities  which could be later checked by a court of law.

"I think  this bill 90 per cent okay. We have removed  the provisions of the original bill that had intended to give NID officials broad power to intercept individuals' communications," he added.

According to Adhikari, if a government employee unlawfully violates individuals' right to privacy by intercepting their communications, then they could face jail term up to seven years.

Secretary at the NA Rajendra Phuyal said that the bill that had originated in the NA ,  was passed today  incorporating the changes made by the Legislation Management Committee of the NA and the bill was later sent to the  House of Representatives, the Lower House of the Parliament today itself.

Rights activists had criticized the original bill saying the bill  violated citizens’ fundamental right, as it proposes to give powers to National Investigation Department to wiretap phones and to intercept digital communications of individuals.