Snoopgate: PIL on legality of commission in Gujarat HC adjourned

NarendraThe petitioner sought a CBI inquiry into alleged illegal phone-tapping of 93,000 people, carried out by the Narendra Modi government in the past six months. (PTI)

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday adjourned for next week a PIL challenging the legality of Justice (retd) Sugnya Bhatt inquiry commission set up by the state government to probe the alleged snooping incident.

A division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhatacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala ordered the petitioner to file an affidavit pertaining to his allegations referred to in the PIL that 93,000 phones were tapped, and posted the matter for further hearing next week.

The petitioner had sought a CBI inquiry into alleged illegal phone-tapping of 93,000 people, carried out by the state government in the past six months.

However, additional advocate general Tushar Mehta told the court that 93,000 illegal phone conversations were not tapped but Call Data Records (CDRs) were obtained by probing agencies for various investigation purposes.

The petitioner, however, argued before the court that the CDRs were obtained illegally and a CBI probe must be ordered into it.

The PIL, filed by lawyer Girish Das, alleged that the inquiry commission will investigate a single incident pertaining to surveillance carried out on a young woman at the behest of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's close aide Amit Shah.

However, under Section 3 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, under which the probe panel was set up, this does not fall under public importance because it pertains to a single individual.

Two investigative news portals, Cobrapost.com and Gulail.com had claimed on November 15 that Shah, then Minister of State for Home, had ordered illegal surveillance of the woman at the behest of one "Saheb".

They had released taped conversations between Shah and suspended IPS officer G L Singhal to support their claim, but said that their authenticity could not be confirmed.

Civil society organisations and Opposition Congress had raised furore over the alleged snooping incident and demanded a CBI inquiry.

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