Gujarat government 'snoop' case: UPA prepares ground for a probe
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Home ministry sources said the draft may be brought before the cabinet this week, but added that opinion within the ministry was divided over whether to go ahead with the proposal. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde would make the decision on when to move the note, the sources said.
"The proposed commission of inquiry will be set up on the grounds that the woman was stalked not only in Gujarat but also in other states. The commission will also be mandated to examine the tapes shown by web portals," a senior home ministry official said on Tuesday.
News portals Gulail and Cobrapost had on November 15 released tapes of alleged conversations between Shah and Singhal, which the portals said showed that a woman was being illegally snooped upon. On Tuesday, Gulail released more tapes that it said established that the surveillance extended beyond Gujarat. (See report alongside.)
The proposed commission of inquiry will be set up under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1952 and, according to the proposed cabinet note, may be headed by a sitting or retired judge of the Supreme Court, sources said. The commission may be given two months to complete the probe, they said.
The panel will have the independence and powers to call for official documents and people for questioning. If it finds merit in the allegations, it will be able to recommend a probe by a government agency, the sources said. The panel will also examine whether the alleged snooping violated the Telegraph Act or IPC, they said.
Following the release of the tapes last month, women's groups and NGOs had met President Pranab Mukherjee and sought a probe into the alleged snooping. The President had referred the matter to the home ministry.
Congress MPs Gurudas Kamat, Narendra Budania, Vijay Darda and Chaudhary Ram Prakash had written to Shinde seeking an inquiry.