NEW DELHI: Suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma on Saturday put Narendra Modi right at the centre of the raging controversy over Gujarat government’s purported illegal surveillance on a woman by telling the Supreme Court that the young architect was subjected to hostile and intense scrutiny because the Gujarat CM was enamoured by her.
In his petition to the SC seeking a CBI probe into the alleged violation of the woman’s right to privacy and the Indian Telegraph Act by Modi and his political aide Amit Shah, Sharma has alleged that he was suspended and framed in half a dozen cases between 2010 and 2012 because of Modi’s suspicion that he knew about the contents of a Video Compact Disc (VCD) allegedly showing the woman in a compromising position.
This is the first time BJP’s PM candidate has been directly accused of complicity in the “snoopgate”. The original charge was directed at Shah, with two investigating websites alleging that Modi’s confidant illegally directed police in 2009 to keep tabs on the woman because of the wishes of “saheb”.
He has dismissed as an afterthought the Gujarat government’s claim that the woman’s father had approached the Modi government to ensure her safety by keeping an eye on her, and said that the tapes of Shah’s purported conversation with police officer G L Singhal make it clear that she was victim of a hostile and intrusive scrutiny in violation of her right to privacy as well as the Indian Telegraph Act.
Claiming that he had introduced the architect from Bangalore, originally hailing from Bhuj in Gujarat, to Modi in 2004 when she was 27 years old.
“The applicant (Sharma) verily believes that Modi and the said female architect remained in touch with each other for next several years. There was also wide spread rumours regarding the Video Compact Disc (VCD) featuring the said female architect and a man in compromising position,” his application filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes stated.
“Sharma has no concern with this VCD, But, he believes that Modi harboured a totally misconceived apprehension that Sharma is the recipient of the information regarding this VDC, the contents of which if disclosed in public would be detrimental to the carefully constructed and publicized image of Modi and consequently damage his electoral prospects,” the suspended bureaucrat said.
“It is for this reason that a number of false and frivolous cases against the applicant herein were registerd with a view to implicate him and ‘punish him’,” he said.
Filing and bringing on the record of the Supreme Court transcripts of the entire footage telecast by websites ‘Cobrapost’ and ‘Gulail’, Sharma said the conversations between Shah, then minister of state for home in Gujarat, and G L Singhal, then SP in Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) in Ahmedabad, was during the period August-September 2009 when Singhal was reporting to Shah.
“The transcripts of the taped conversations reveal that the said lady architect and the applicant (Sharma) were placed under an all-pervasive and intrusive surveillance at the behest of a person referred to as ‘Saheb” by Amit Shah,” he said.
He alleged that the taped conversations revealed “severe and material violations” of the Indian telegraph Act, 1885, and an absolute disregard to the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in its December 18, 1996 judgment in the People’s Union for Civil Liberties case.
Terming the explanation that the ‘snooping’ on the woman was being done at her father’s behest as an ‘after thought”, Sharma said, “this explanation seems absolutely incredulous and unworthy of any belief in the light of the contents of conversations between Shah and Singhal, which reveal that the surveillance was extremely intrusive and hostile and not as innocuous and benign as sought to be made”.
The purported ‘no objection’ from the woman’s father did not absolve Modi, Shah and others of brazenly violating the law and the guidelines laid down by the apex court, he said and pleaded that the truth would be buried if the Gujarat Police investigated into the matter.
“It is important to note that the state intelligence bureau, the crime branch of Ahmedabad city police and the ATS were all involved in this illegal telephone interceptions and surveillance without having any role to play in the investigations relating to the case in hand,” Sharma said.