Snooping row: PIL challenges legality of probe panel in HC

A public interest litigation (PIL) was moved before the Gujarat High Court on Friday challenging the legality of the commission set up by the state government to probe the alleged snooping on a woman, involving police officers and BJP leader Amit Shah, a close aide of Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The PIL, filed by lawyer Girish Das, seeking CBI inquiry in the alleged illegal phone-tapping of 93,000 people, stated that the panel will only investigate a single incident in connection with the illegal surveillance of the woman ordered by Shah.

He has argued that under Section 3 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, under which the probe panel was set up, does not fall under public importance since it pertains to only one individual. He has sought court's intervention to order CBI to investigate the illegal phone-interception of 93,000 persons carried out by the state government in the last six months.

Following the controversy, the state government on November 25 formed a two-member commission, comprising Justice (retd) Sugnya Bhatt and former IAS officer K C Kapoor, to probe into the alleged matter.

On November 15, two Delhi-based news portals had claimed that Amit Shah, then minister of state for Home, ordered illegal surveillance on a woman at the behest of one "Saheb" in 2009. The news portal had released taped conversations between Shah and suspended IPS officer G L Singhal to support their claim, but said that its authenticity could not be confirmed.

The conversations are said to be a part of the chargesheet in Ishrat Jahan and three other fake encounter cases submitted by CBI on July 3 before a CBI court.

A division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala scheduled the matter for hearing next week.

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