New Delhi/Shimla: The BJP and Congress on Friday exchanged barbs on the `snoopgate` controversy concerning the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat with union Law Minister Kapil Sibal saying a judge will be appointed before May 16 to head the probe panel and BJP leader Arun Jaitley noting that the new central government will be within its rights to review any "mala fide last-minute" decision taken by the UPA.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde also hit out at Modi over his government`s alleged illegal surveillance of a young woman architect.
The central government had decided in December to set up a judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate the charges of illegal surveillance by the Gujarat government.
Talking to reporters in Shimla, Shinde said he was scared that if a chief minister can put a woman under surveillance, what will happen to the women of the country if he becomes prime minister.
Shinde said the central government will soon appoint a retired judge to probe whether Gujarat Police spied upon a woman at the behest of Modi, the BJP`s prime ministerial candidate.
"The union cabinet has passed a decision to appoint a judge on the snooping case... the matter is in process," Shinde said.
Asked if appointing a judge at the moment would be in violation of the model code of conduct, Shinde said: "It is not. The decision has been taken far earlier before the code of conduct began.
Opposition parties have alleged that Modi ordered the woman`s movements to be tracked.
Sibal said the UPA government will name a judge to investigate the `snoopgate` before May 16, the day results will be declared for the Lok Sabha election.
"You will get a (snoopgate) judge before May 16. Why are leaders of BJP worried and why are they making public statements that no judge should join this commission," Sibal said.
He said the Bharatiya Janata Party was worried as its leaders "know that once the commission is set up, there is no saving Narendra Modi".
"I think they should continue to be worried because the commission will be set up and he (Modi) will be investigated and he will be brought to book," Sibal said.
He said there was documentary evidence of what Modi has done and "how he has snooped on the activities of a young girl".
Sibal also questioned the probe panel appointed by the state government, saying it will never move forward as it was appointed by the chief minister himself.
However, BJP leader Arun Jaitley sought to dismiss Sibal`s remarks, saying the new government at the centre will be within its rights to review any "mala fide last-minute" decision taken by the UPA government on the snoopgate controversy.
Jaitley, who wrote an article on the BJP website and later addressed a press conference, said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance appeared certain that it cannot return to power and had made three unsuccessful efforts in recent days.
"First, they tried to appoint two new information commissioners; next, they tried to fill up the quorum of the search committee for appointment of the Lokpal; and lastly, they are trying desperately to get at least one judge to agree to head the snoopgate commission. I doubt very much if any of these moves are likely to succeed," Jaitley said.
"Even if it did, a future government would be well within its legitimate rights to review such a mala fide last-minute decision of the UPA."
Jaitley had Thursday hoped that no judge would agree to part of "desperate exercise" of the UPA government for the sake of judicial dignity.