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‘Snoopgate’: Gujarat HC quashes probe Commission

October 10
03:45 2014

123 AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court today set aside the state government notification appointing Justice Sugnya Bhatt Commission to probe the alleged snooping on a Bangalore-based woman architect.

Granting the plea of the woman’s father, Justice Paresh Upadhyay set aside the state government notification, under which the two-member Commission of retired Justice Sugnya Bhatt and former IAS officer K C Kapoor was formed.

The Gujarat government had on November 25 formed the Commission to probe the alleged snooping scandal, in which surveillance was carried out by state police on instruction of BJP president Amit Shah (then Minister of State for Home in Gujarat government) on the behest of one ‘Saheb’.

The Opposition had at that time alleged that the ‘Saheb’ was then state Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The woman’s father had approached the High Court yesterday and demanded to set aside the probe Commission, contending that they were not ‘aggrieved’ with the alleged surveillance.

The inquiry by Commission is an infringement to his daughter’s ‘Right of privacy’, the petitioner said.

The petitioner contended that as per section 3 of the ‘Commission of Inquiry’s Act 1952, the state or Central government can form an inquiry commission to probe an issue or many issues related to public interest.

However, in this case the issue is related to someone’s privacy and further inquiry would be an infringement of the privacy, the petition said.

Advocate N D Nanavati argued before the HC that the Commission was formed merely on the basis of news reports.

The alleged surveillance was done in 2009, so what made media to release the news reports after four years, Nanavati said.

He further argued that the formation of the Commission was an arbitrary action by the state government, as per the law, since the petitioner was not aggrieved. . However, Additional Advocate General of Gujarat P K Jani said that the state government felt it appropriate to form the Commission at the relevant point of time.

After hearing the arguments of both the sides, the High Court granted the submissions of petitioner and set aside the Commission.

Two investigative news portals, Cobrapost.com and Gulail.com, had claimed on November 15 last year that Shah had ordered illegal surveillance of a woman at the behest of one ‘Saheb’.

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

Earlier, the woman and her father had also approached the Supreme Court against the move of the then UPA government to appoint a Commission to probe the alleged surveillance.

However, when the Central government back-tracked on the appointment of the Commission, the apex court had asked the family to approach the High Court regarding their demand to scrap the panel appointed by Gujarat government.–PTI

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