National

Snoopgate probe: Announcing judge not in violation of poll code, says Shinde

The government on Friday said that a judge will be appointed to conduct probe into Gujarat ‘snoopgate’ before counting of votes in Lok Sabha polls and rubbished BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s claim that no judge will “lend” himself to the “political and malafide” exercise targeting Narendra Modi.

“The Cabinet had taken the decision to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to probe the incident of snooping on a woman in Gujarat. We will soon appoint the judge... before May 16,” Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told a press conference in Shimla.

Asked whether the appointment of a judge in the midst of Lok Sabha elections would not amount to violation of the Model Code of Conduct, Mr. Shinde said, “It will not” as the decision had been taken more than four months ago by the Union Cabinet.

“I am worried. The way the Chief Minister of Gujarat had snooped into the life of a woman, I am really worried what will happen to the women of the country if he becomes the Prime Minister,” he said.

In New Delhi, Law Minister Kapil Sibal rubbished >Mr. Jaitley’s claim that no judge will “lend” himself to the “political and malafide” exercise targeting the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

“You will get a snoopgate judge before May 16. I don’t know why these people are so worried? Why leaders of BJP are worried and why they are making public statement that no judge should join this commission?” he said.

Mr. Sibal said that Mr. Modi against whom accusations have been made in the controversy will be investigated.

The Congress leader said the BJP is worried as its leaders know the fact that “once the commission is set up there is no saving for Narendra Modi”.

Reacting the government’s move, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was nothing but a reflection of arrogance of the UPA government, which, he claimed, would be voted out of power.

Mr. Prasad said, “The two honourable Ministers... along with the entire Congress party would be defeated conclusively after 10 days and yet the arrogance of having the inquiry.

“I would expect that so many judges have refused in the past and the sanctity and dignity of the judiciary will not be compromised for ulterior motive of the Congress party.”

Mr. Sibal claimed that there was documentary evidence of what Mr. Modi had done and how he had snooped the activities of the young woman.

“...They are worried about the national commission set up by the Centre and I think, they should continue to be worried because the commission will be set up and he will be investigated and he will be brought to book,” he said.

The Centre had on December 26, 2013 decided to set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to probe charges of spying on a woman in 2009 allegedly at the behest of the Gujarat Chief Minister.

The government had announced that the commission, to be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court, will also look into charges of snooping on Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh by the previous BJP government when he was in the opposition as well as the leaking of the call data records (CDR) of Mr. Jaitley in Delhi.

The Union Cabinet took the decision under the Commissions of Inquiry Act under which the Modi government had already set up a similar panel.

However, even after four months, the government could not appoint anyone to conduct the probe as no retired judge came forward to take up the assignment.

There were reports that as no retired judge was willing to head the probe commission, the UPA government was mulling the option of changing the terms of reference for the commission by incorporating a provision that will allow the government to appoint a sitting judge of a High Court.


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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 4:38:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/snoopgate-probe-announcing-judge-not-in-violation-of-poll-code-says-shinde/article5969660.ece

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