Manohar Parrikar
Manohar Parrikar orders ban on mobile phones at all defence ministry meetings.Reuters

In line with the recent directive by the Cabinet Secretariat on keeping mobile phones outside the ambit of all Cabinet meetings, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has directed his ministry officials to practise the same at meetings of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) and other important meetings.

Citing chances of cyber espionage, a South Block official was quoted as saying by Mail Today that "As per orders of the Defence Minister, mobile phones of all officials and military personnel are deposited in a rack outside the meeting rooms."

The idea, according to the official, was to prevent snooping activities by rival countries as the officials in the meeting might not know if their "phones were compromised or not."

The report stated intelligence inputs given to the ministry over the possibility of Chinese or Pakistani agencies or hackers entering these meeting via cyber espionage.

The minister also observed reservation on the usage of phones inside the meeting rooms.

A DAC meeting on Monday strictly followed these instructions and everyone, including defence ministry officials, chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force, Defence Secretary and Secretary (Defence Production), was seen depositing it before the meeting. All future meetings will follow this new guideline.

This decision was prompted by recent intelligence reports that noted secret and classified information leaks emerging from the ministry. Most of the leaks were related to defence deals, however.