Govt. replies to Ahmedabad-based lawyer’s RTI application
The Gujarat government has stated it has “zero information” about any meetings or correspondence on the appointment of a two-member commission headed by retired High Court judge Sugnya Bhatt to go into allegations that the State had used its police apparatus to spy on a young woman architect at the behest of the former Minister of State for Home, Amit Shah, who acted on the instructions of one “sahib.”
Mr. Shah is a close associate of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is alleged to be the ‘sahib’, and is now BJP national general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh affairs.
Replying to an application by Ahmedabad-based lawyer Ratna Vora under the Right to Information Act (RTI), the General Administration Department (GAD) of the government has stated, “This notification [appointing the Commission] was issued after the decision taken by the office of the competent authority, which means at the level of the Chief Minister’s Office.”
Significantly, the lawyer and RTI applicant Ratna Vora has also moved an application before the Gujarat High Court to join a public interest litigation filed against the appointment of the Commission asserting that those very people facing allegations could not name handpicked judges, the second one is retired IAS officer K.C. Kapoor, to take up the inquiry.
To more queries by the lawyer for a copy of the instructions to appoint the Commission, the GAD replies, “Information regarding the minutes of the meeting, written communication, fax, e-mail or any other matter is zero.” This, in effect, means the Commission was appointed on oral instructions from the Chief Minister’s Office.
Mr. Vora’s application in the High Court is being heard along with a PIL by another lawyer Girish Das, who too has challenged the appointment of the two-member probe panel.
Mr. Vora’s plea states that since the role of both Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah is under scanner in the snooping case, the Chief Minister had no right to select a judge to head the inquiry commission.