Gujarat IAS officer seeks CBI probe in snooping case
Gujarat cadre IAS officer Pradeep Sharma Saturday sought a CBI probe into violations of law by state Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his confidante and former minister of state for home Amit Shah in the alleged snooping on a woman architect.
Urging the court to take on record the documents and transcripts accompanying his application, filed in the apex court registry Saturday, Shama sought direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to "register a case and conduct a thorough inquiry/investigation into the violation of the Telegraph Act 1885 and other applicable laws" by Modi, Shah and any others.
The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer said that while posted as district magistrate at Kutch, his projects for the beautification of Bhuj city - devastated by 2001 earthquake - including development of a hill garden.
It was at the garden's inauguration by Modi, he had introduced the woman - engaged as a landscaping architect - to the chief minister.
Modi and the woman "remained in touch with each other for next several years", he said in his application.
"There was also widespread rumours regarding the video compact disc (VCD) featuring the said female architect and a man in compromising position ..."
Sharma said that he had no concern with the VCD but he got at the receiving end of the government because of apprehension that he had information regarding it.
Modi "harboured a totally misconceived apprehension that the applicant (Sharma) herein is recipient of the information regarding this VCD, the contents of which, if disclosed in public, would be detrimental to the carefully constructed and publicized image of the Respondent No.3 (Modi)" and consequently damage his electoral prospects, he alleged.
It was because of this "totally misconceived apprehension" that though in his three decades of service record, there was noting against him but in two years from 2010 to 2012 he was implicated in six cases, Sharma claimed.
Another aggravating circumstance against him was that his brother Kuldip Sharma, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, earned the wrath of the state government because he refused to carry out illegal dictates of Modi and Shah when he was posted as additional director general CID-crime.
"It for this reason, that a number of false and frivolous cases against the applicant herein were registered with a view to implicate him and punish him," the application said.
Though as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have said that the woman was put under surveillance at the instance of her father, Sharma in his application says that the "taped conversations reveal severe and material violations of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885, and an absolute disregard to the guidelines laid down" by the apex court in 1996.
The application said that Section 5(2), Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, phone tapping is allowed only in the "public emergency" or in the interest of "public safety". However, in other situations, it can only be allowed with the permission of the home ministry.
It noted the guidelines under the act prescribe the procedure for carrying out surveillance on an individual without violation of right of privacy, but in the case of the woman, there was an "utter disregard and violation of the same".
Mocking claims that it was done on the request of the woman's father, Sharma said the "explanation seems absolutely incredulous and unworthy of any belief, in light of the contents of the conversations" that Shah had with IPS officer G.L. Singhal which "clearly reveal that the surveillance was extremely intrusive and hostile and not as innocuous and benign as sought to be made".
The transcript of the tapes "reveal a strong bias and prejudice of the state of Gujarat against the applicant herein and the state's intent to somehow implicate the applicant herein in criminal offences".
He contended these transcripts confirm his apprehensions that he was being victimized because of his knowledge of Modi's relationship with the woman.
Sharma contended that the "charge sheets filed in various cases are outcome of bias and prejudicial investigations" and aimed to harass him. He thus sought an investigation by the CBI which is beyond the control of Modi.
(Posted on 23-11-2013)