Centre to set up judicial panel to probe ‘snoopgate’

Two news portals had claimed on November 15 that Amit Shah had ordered illegal surveillance of a woman in Gujarat.

Two news portals had claimed on November 15 that Amit Shah had ordered illegal surveillance of a woman in Gujarat.  

The commission is likely to be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge

The Centre decided on Thursday to set up a judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate charges of spying by the Gujarat government on a young woman in 2009, dismissing the BJP’s objections that this was an “act of political vindictiveness” against its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi: for it was allegedly on the Gujarat Chief Minister’s orders that a woman architect and members of her family were “stalked” in what has popularly come to be called ‘snoopgate’.

Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, responding to the BJP’s criticism, said there was “no vendetta, no revenge, no politics” in the Cabinet’s decision, even as Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the decision could be challenged in the Supreme Court as it “violates the federal structure of the Constitution”.

But the Communist Party of India (Marxist), that had sought the probe, said that since surveillance took place in more than one State, a Central Commission of Enquiry was in order.

The Centre’s move comes a month after the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Communist Party of India and the Lokjanshakti Party, and civil society organisations met President Pranab Mukherjee and urged him to press for an independent judicial probe, a request that was forwarded to the Home Ministry. It also comes against the backdrop of fresh claims by that the alleged snooping was conducted beyond the Gujarat.

“The Cabinet has approved a proposal to set up a Commission of Inquiry… 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,” an official release said. A sitting or retired Supreme Court judge is likely to head the commission, and the report is expected to be submitted within three months, official sources said.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 10:12:53 PM |

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