A sitting or retired Supreme Court judge is likely to head the judicial Commission of Inquiry to be set up by the Centre to investigate charges of spying by the Gujarat government on a young woman in 2009. The report is expected to be submitted within three months, official sources said.

The Centre has rejected the Gujarat government’s contention that under the Commission of Inquiry Act, the Centre or the State government cannot appoint an inquiry commission into a matter on which one of the two governments has already set up such a panel – in this case the State government has already set up a commission. However, official sources here say that Section 3 provides for the Centre to appoint a commission if it is of the opinion that the scope of the inquiry should be extended to two or more States.

Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh, on his part, has said the State panel is a case of an “accused appointing the investigation agency”. Welcoming the Centre’s decision, Mr. Singh said: “It should have happened much earlier because there is open violation of the Indian Telegraph Act and the Information Technology Act.”

Snoopgate broke over a month ago when two news portals released CDs of purported telephonic conversations, purportedly between August and September 2009, between the then Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah and two State police officers relating to surveillance of a woman architect. Mr. Modi’s name does not occur in the conversations but there is reference to a “sahib” that the portals say is the Gujarat CM, at whose instance the snooping was done.