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Ban unsolicited phone calls, urges PIL

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Last updated on: February 07, 2005 16:36 IST

Are you harassed by constant unsolicited calls on your mobile phones from various banks for a loan or credit cards?

Rejoice. The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre and all cellular operators and multi-national banks on a public interest litigation seeking a law to ban such 'uncalled for' calls.

A Bench comprising Justice N Santosh Hegde and Justice S B Sinha issued notice to as many as 11 respondents on the PIL filed by Harsh Pathak who termed this as an invasion of privacy and violation of right to live a peaceful life.

Those to whom notices were issued are the Union government, law and justice ministry, Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd, cellular operators -- Hutch, Reliance, Idea, Bharti -- and multi-national banks Citibank, HSBC, Standard Charter, HDFC and ICICI.

The petitioner through senior advocate Vivek Tankha contended that these unsolicited calls for a loan, card or even a new connection amounted to 'endemic invasion of privacy of the subscribers of mobile telephony at all times and hours' and seriously impaired the fundamental rights of citizens.

It said that the mobile telephony service providers and telemarketers were using the personal date of the subscribers for their business purposes as a product for sales promotion at the subscriber's personal and financial cost.

Citing a law in United States to ban such unsolicited calls, the petitioner requested the Court to direct the Government to enact appropriate law, scheme or regulation to protect the mobile phone users 'from this constant harassment and invasion of privacy' by such calls.

The petitioner said personal data given by a subscriber to a mobile telephone service provider should be treated as confidential and there should be a law prohibiting service providers from transferring such personal data to other companies for commercial purposes.

"The government should formulate a scheme to safeguard the privacy of the subscribers and to compensate for the loss incurred by them due to such unethical actions of the respondent companies," Pathak said in his petition.

He said the government should create a helpline and a forum to register complaints from the mobile phone subscribers who have been 'harassed' by such unsolicited calls.

It requested the court to issue a direction to the government to consider making a provision 'Do Not Call' registry, which would contain the numbers of those subscribers who do not want any call from telemarketing companies, on the lines of what had been created by the Federal Communications Commission in the United States.

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