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Amit Shah snooping case: Panel to find out if conspiracy in release of tapes

Ahmedabad: Gujarat government today formally issued a notification constituting an inquiry commission into the alleged snooping scandal, in which the panel has been asked to find out if there was any conspiracy in releasing the tapes after four years.

Under attack over alleged snooping on a woman by Gujarat Police, Narendra Modi government appointed a two-member Commission of Inquiry yesterday, the notification of which was issued today. The commission is headed by retired Gujarat High Court judge Sugnyaben K Bhatt. Retired Additional Chief Secretary K C Kapoor will be part of the inquiry panel, which has been asked to submit its report within three months.

 Amit Shah snooping case: Panel to find out if conspiracy in release of tapes

Amit Shah. PTI

The commission has been given six terms of references (ToR) to inquire into and submit its report. "Whether the circumstances leading to release of audio tapes after a long gap of four years reveals any conspiracy," the ToR as per the notification said.

BJP has alleged that there was a conspiracy in the release of audio tapes just ahead of the 2014 polls to malign the name of the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and pointed figures towards the CBI and Congress.

As per the notification, the commission has been asked to "check the authenticity of the tapes" and "whether the incident(s) of security/surveillance as alleged in the web portals Gulail.com and Cobra Post and subsequent telecast/ publishing in various medias actually took place".

The ToR also asks the commission to "find out the facts, circumstances, reasons and causes that led to alleged security/surveillance if any and/or steps taken by the government agencies". "Whether there was any breach of or non-compliance with any laid down mandatory legal provisions and/or administrative procedures in the process," the ToR further reads.

The tapes show purported conversations between then Minister of State for Home in Gujarat Amit Shah giving orders to IPS officer G L Singhal to snoop on a woman architect. Shah, a close aide of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, is reportedly heard saying his "Saheb" wants that an eye be kept on the woman. It was alleged that he was referring to Modi.

The commission has also been asked to suggest, "the objective considerations while arranging discreet security to a woman if circumstances so warrant".

It said that the panel has been appointed in the wake of reports in the media about some audio tapes made public by Cobrapost and Gulail.com about "alleged incident(s) of security/surveillance of a woman in the state of Gujarat in 2009".

Congress has severely criticised setting up of the commission, terming it as an "eyewash" and dubbed it as "Save Modi Commission".

"A thief who steals, himself decides the investigating officer to nab the accused," Gujarat Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia said, reacting to the constitution of the panel. However, Gujarat Finance Minister and state government spokesperson Nitin Patel rubbished the allegations.

"The sitting or retired judges of high court and supreme court are not swayed by anybody. They conduct inquiry on the basis of law and they should not be doubted," Patel said.

Modi, who is BJP's prime ministerial candidate, has come under sharp attack from Congress which had asked BJP to rethink his nomination and demanded a CBI inquiry.

Suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma had in a petition to the Supreme Court said the reasons for his "victimisation" by Gujarat government were his "knowledge of the intimacy shared by Modi with the young lady architect, who worked in Bangalore, but was originally from Bhuj in Gujarat".

BJP had rejected the allegations saying the father of the girl had sought protection for her from the chief minister. The woman's father issued a statement that he had asked Modi to give protection to his daughter and that she was not being stalked by the police. He has also written to the National Commission for Women asking it not to probe the matter as there is no case of stalking here.

PTI

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Updated Date: Nov 26, 2013 22:53:51 IST