Snooping row: Sugnya Bhatt takes charge of inquiry panel

Former Gujarat High Court Judge Sugnya Bhatt took charge as chairperson of inquiry commission set up by the Gujarat Government into illegal snooping on a woman architect allegedly by a top minister and IPS officers in 2009. The main terms of reference for the commission is to inquire into authenticity, veracity of audio tapes and conspiracy behind release of tapes after four years of the said incident.

Former Additional Chief Secretary K C Kapoor, who has been appointed member in the commission, however, likely to join the investigation later on, owing to his unavailability in the state.

Bhatt, who is also chairperson of State OBC Commission, will continue to function from its office in Sector 19 of Gandhinagar.

With Bhatt not taking charge for five days, the state government had announced the commission November 25 and issued notification with terms of references on next day, the rumours were making the rounds about 72-year-old's disinterest in leading the inquiry.

According to the sources, first of all, the commission will acquire the said audio tapes released by investigative portals and, where in BJP prime ministerial candidate and Chief Minister Narendra Modi's close aide and former minister of state of Home Amit Shah is heard instructing suspended IPS officer G L Singhal to follow, trace and tap phone calls of a woman architect. Through out the tapes Shah maintained that orders have come from his "saheb".

The BJP national president Rajnath Singh, quoting letter from said woman's father Pranlal Soni, had claimed that father asked CM Narendra Modi to provide security to his daughter.

The sources said that once the commission would acquire the tapes, in possession of CBI, through CBI court, it will be sent to Gujarat forensic laboratory. The voice verification will also be done to check whether the voices feature in the tapes are of Shah, Singhal and couple of other police officials.

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