UPA orders probe into Gujarat snooping, adds Jaitley’s call records too

NaMo Amit ShahNarendra Modi and Amit Shah

The Centre Thursday ordered the setting up of an inquiry commission to probe the alleged illegal snooping of a Bangalore-based woman architect by Gujarat officials, reportedly on the instructions of Chief Minister Narendra Modi's close aide Amit Shah.

In an apparent attempt to appear non-partisan, the Cabinet said the commission's ambit would be expanded to also examine the alleged interception of phone calls of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and access of call detail records (CDRs) of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley.

"The Cabinet has approved a proposal to set up a commission of inquiry under Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, to look into the incidents of physical/ electronic surveillance in the states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh and the National Capital Territory of Delhi, allegedly without authorisation," the government said in a press statement.

The commission is likely to be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or a retired high court chief justice. It is required to submit its report within three months.

"Nobody should suspect the timing of the announcement. There is no vendetta or revenge. There was a delegation of 47 women who submitted a resolution to the President demanding a probe. The Gujarat commission was only for one state, but this commission is for multiple states... The home ministry will also consult the law ministry to decide on the panel of judges," said Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde. He said "political parties were also demanding a probe into the Jaitley case".

The terms of reference of the commission include:

* To ascertain the circumstances leading to the surveillance by way of interception of telephones or otherwise of a young woman in Gujarat in August-September 2009 or any other relevant period. To investigate the instances of unlawful interception of telephone calls in Himachal Pradesh and unlawful access to the call data records in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

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