Snoopgate: Sibal accuses BJP of double speak

Defending the decision to set up an inquiry commission to go into Gujarat snoopgate, Law Minister Kapil Sibal Friday accused BJP of "double speak".

PTI| Updated: Dec 27, 2013, 16:32 PM IST

New Delhi: Defending the decision to set up an inquiry commission to go into Gujarat snoopgate, Law Minister Kapil Sibal Friday accused BJP of "double speak" and said a probe ordered by the Narendra Modi government on it will meet fate of a probe panel on post-Godhra riots which is yet to give its report.

"The Nanavati Commission was set up by Narendra Modi in order to help absolve himself of any wrong doing in Gujarat. Instead of four months, it has taken over 11 years and the inquiry report is still awaited," Sibal said on his website.

"Setting up a Commission of Inquiry by the Gujarat government in relation to snoopgate will meet the same fate," he said.

He said there is "ample evidence" to suggest that various provisions of the Information Technology Act, Telegraph Act, IPC as well as right to privacy of a young girl and her family were violated in the snooping incident.

The Union Cabinet had yesterday decided to set up a Commission of Inquiry to probe charges of spying on the young woman in 2009 allegedly at the behest of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The commission, to be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, 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 BJP leader Arun Jaitley in Delhi.

"Section 3 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act authorises the central government to inquire into a matter of definite public importance even if a Commission of Inquiry is set up by the state, if the subject of inquiry impacts more than one state. Gujarat snoopgate involves more than one state and there is ample evidence to suggest that," the minister wrote

Sibal said the issue of unauthorised access of call data
records of Jaitley and alleged snooping on Congress leaders in Himachal Pradesh during BJP rule were matters of "great concern" and the Centre was entitled to set up a Commission of Inquiry to look into them.

"It is ironic that BJP leaders are crying foul when they themselves asked for immediate investigation and arrest when call data phone records were accessed unauthorisedly. Lack of consistency and double speak is BJP`s forte. If people should be arrested for unauthorised access of call-data records, the same yardstick must be applied to those who in Gujarat, in violation of the law, snooped on others," he said.

He claimed that an official release of the Gujarat police states that 65,000 phones were tapped without authorisation of the Home Secretary in Ahmedabad alone in a period of six months.

Referring to BJP`s stand that the inquiry violates the federal structure of the country, he said the "federal structure does not allow a Chief Minister of a state to run riot, violate the law and interfere in a citizen`s privacy and snoop over our citizens. This is a phony argument. It seeks to trivialise a serious issue."