Gujarat forms inquiry commission to probe snooping
The Gujarat government Monday announced a commission of inquiry, headed by a retired woman judge, to probe the 2009 allegations of stalking by the state police.
The alleged snooping of a woman architect has escalated into a major political row, involving Narendra Modi.
A Gujarat government statement Monday said the two-member commission will consist of former Gujarat High Court judge Sugnyaben K. Bhatt and former additional chief secretary K.C. Kapoor. The panel has been asked to submit its report within three months.
The Gujarat government's decision came on a day the Congress led a delegation of women activists who submitted a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee demanding a judicial probe into the alleged stalking of the woman.
The alleged snooping has escalated into a major row between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party in the middle of the campaigning for assembly polls.
The Congress has been alleging the woman was close to Modi and was put under surveillance by the then minister of state for home and Modi's aide, Amit Shah, in 2009 after the chief minister suspected her of being close to an IAS officer.
Modi is the prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Gujarat cadre IAS officer Pradeep Sharma Saturday filed a plea in the Supreme Court and sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into violations of law by Modi and Shah in the alleged snooping on the architect.
He urged the court to take on record the documents and transcripts accompanying his application and sought direction to the 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 Gujarat government statement said the inquiry had been ordered to probe the issue in larger public interest and to arrive at the truth.
"After considering all aspects of the case, the state government has decided to get the matter inquired in the larger public interest to gather, assimilate and establish the truth," the statement said.
The statement referred to reports in the media quoting "certain audio-tapes published on web portals 'Kobrapost' and 'Gulail.com' regarding some alleged incident(s) of security/surveillance of a woman in the state of Gujarat in 2009."
According to the expose made earlier this month, the woman's movements and her conversations were being covered by the Gujarat "state Intelligence Bureau, the Crime Branch and the Anti-Terrorist Squad in August 2009 on oral orders, without any valid legal authorisation, and was meant only to serve the interests of someone whom Amit Shah, addressed as 'saheb'."
The Congress has been seeking to corner Modi on the alleged stalking and has claimed that "saheb" mentioned in the tapes referred to the Gujarat chief minister.
The BJP has strongly defended the Gujarat government, stating the father of the woman said he requested the state government to provide protection to his daughter.
(Posted on 26-11-2013)