In response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) over the legality of appointment of Sugnya Bhatt inquiry commission and the alleged tapping of 93,000 phone calls the state government Thursday informed the Gujarat High Court that these calls were not tapped but are actually Call Data Records (CDRs) which were obtained by the state police for investigation purpose.
A division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhatacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala ordered the petitioner to file an affidavit with regards to his allegations that 93,000 phones were tapped. The petitioner Girish Das has sought Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into these tapping.
Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta informed the court that these CDRs were obtained by police for investigation purpose. However,Das argued that these CDRs were procured illegally and therefore it should be probed by CBI.
On May 8 Additional Director-General of Police (CID) Shivanand Jha,also commissioner of police Ahmedabad city,had issued a circular stating that only an investigating officer can obtain permission to procure CDR from police commissioner or Superintendent of Police in case of an offence. The reason,the circular had cited,was the number of CDRs being sought by cops as well as an instance in New Delhi in which a top politician’s CDR was procured by a constable.
Besides CDRs, the petitioner has also challenged the legality of Sugnya Bhatt inquiry commission set up the state government to investigate snooping on a young woman by several police officers at the behest of BJP leader Amit Shah.
Das has claimed that section 3 of Commission of Inquiry Act,1952,deals with constituting a panel for the purpose of inquiry into cases of public importance. However,investigating a single person’s case can not be said to be done in public interest. Therefore,Das has claimed to allow CBI inquiry into the alleged CDRs obtained by state police.
Two news portals,Cobrapost.com and Gulail.com on November 15 had released the alleged tapped conversation of Amit Shah,then Minister of State for Home,and suspended IPS officer G L Singhal who were heard involved in illegal surveillance of a woman at the behest of one “Saheb”. The matter was adjourned for further hearing for next week.