By Ashwini Shrivastava
In a surprise move, the Defence Forces have been barred from procuring jammers under new guidelines unveiled on Thursday by the government which will now allow only states' police and jail authorities and central security agencies like IB and RAW to buy the equipment.
The decision to keep Defence forces out of the list of authorised agencies is significant as questions were raised on the now-defunct Army's Technical Support Division (TSD).
The TSD, which was set up during the tenure of the controversial former Army chief (now Union Minister) General V K Singh, who was accused of carrying out unauthorised operations. The jammers or interceptors imported by the TSD for evaluation purpose could not be accounted for after the government decided to close the unit.
"Jammers can be procured only by states' police department and jail authorities, and central government security agencies like RAW and IB," the new policy issued by Cabinet Secretariat said.
There was no mention of Defence Forces being allowed to procure in the new guidelines.
It modifies last year guidelines on procurement and use of jammers which had "Defence Forces" among other authorised agencies that can buy jammers.
The new norms also restricts exam conducting bodies like Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) from procuring jammers but allows it to deploy "low powered jammers to prevent cheating during examinations".
In case of movement of VVIPs guarded by Special Protection Group (SPG), all type of jammers procured by government agencies should be deployed in the vicinity, it said.
The new policy also bars import of jammers without getting a license from Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).
"Private sector organisation and/or private individuals cannot procure or use jammers in India. These norms take into account the need to guard against random proliferation of jammers as well as to ensure that jammers installed do not unduly interfere with the existing mobile phone networks," the guidelines said.
Prior permission of Secretary (Security) in Cabinet Secretariat must be obtained before procurement of jammers, it said.
The permission for procurement of jammer is granted in consultation with SPG and IB who maintain a database of available jammers, the policy says.
The statutory examination conducting bodies are allowed to deploy low powered jammers to prevent cheating during examinations. The same would, however, not be through procurement or ownership of the equipment, it said.
They would be given permission only to take it on lease basis and would therefore have to pay only for using jammers on the specific date of examination, as per the guidelines.
The examination body may consider deployment of jammers in sensitive examination centres based on past experience and other inputs rather than deployment in all centres across the country, it says.
Jammer models manufactured by M/s ECIL and M/s BEL, which are evaluated by concerned security agencies, can be procured.
However, central or state PSUs, wanting to manufacture jammers, can apply to the Secretariat giving details of the model, the source of technology and other relevant information, the norms read.
For seeking prior permission for installation of jammers in jails, the total number of jammers required for installation in prisons need to be assessed by jail authorities in consultation with the local office of the Wireless Adviser, Department of Telecommunications, Government of India before the proposal is submitted for seeking approval of Cabinet Secretariat.
"Inviting open tender from unauthorised manufacturers is a violation of the policy of Government of India in matters of procurement of jammers," the policy reads.