Snoopgate: Lawyer given 15 days to produce Central order

Gujarat High Court granted 15 days to a lawyer, who challenged legality of Inquiry Commission in snooping of woman, to produce notification issued by Centre which had set up a separate judicial panel.

PTI| Last Updated: Jan 17, 2014, 03:07 AM IST

Ahmedabad: Gujarat High Court on Thursday granted 15 days time to a lawyer, who had challenged legality of the Inquiry Commission set up by the State Government in snooping of a woman, to produce notification issued by the Centre which had set up a separate judicial panel to look into the episode.

The Narendra Modi Government has set up the Commission under retired High Court Judge Sugnya Bhatt to probe into what has come to be known as "snoopgate".

The petitioner, lawyer Girish Das, in his PIL sought 15 days time to produce the notification issued by the Centre to set up the Commission to probe into illegal surveillance of the woman, an architect, by Gujarat Police in 2009.

A division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhatacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala granted him till January 30 to produce the notification.

Meanwhile, another advocate Ratna Vora today filed an application seeking to join as part-respondent in the PIL, which was accepted by the Bench.

Das today argued that when the Centre had formed a Commission to enquire into "snoopgate", the panel set up by the State had no authority and hence, it should be disbanded.

However, the court held both the State and the Centre have authority to set up probe panels into the incident under the Commission of Inquiry Act.

In his PIL, the petitioner had also sought a CBI inquiry into alleged illegal phone-tapping of 93,000 persons carried out by the State Government in the last six months.

Two investigative news portals, Cobrapost.Com and Gulail.Com, had claimed on November 15 that Amit Shah, then Minister of State for Home, had ordered illegal surveillance of the woman at the behest of one "Saheb".

They had released taped conversations between Shah and suspended IPS officer G L Singhal to support their claim.

The State Government on November 25 formed two-member Commission, comprising Justice Bhatt and former IAS officer K C Kapoor, to probe the snooping scandal.

The Centre, on December 26, decided to appoint a separate inquiry commission into the surveillance episode. This panel is likely to be headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge.