Accusing the central government of conniving in what it said was a controversy engineered over the alleged illegal surveillance mounted on a woman, the Gujarat government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that not only the father of the woman, but the woman herself had been aware that state agencies were tracking her.
The woman was “thankful” for the state action, the Gujarat government told the court.
It said that the audio recordings aired by news portals Cobrapost and Gulail came at a “strategically chosen time with an obvious and visible connivance of the home ministry of the central government, with a view to pave the way for an immediate malicious campaign”.
Gujarat’s affidavit claimed that IAS officer Pradeep Sharma, a vocal critic of the Narendra Modi government, had asked the court for a CBI probe into the matter because the CBI functioned under the “direct control” of the union home ministry.
The affidavit claimed that the woman had been “deeply disturbed by the propaganda”, and had approached the Gujarat State Women’s Commission to record her statement in December 2013 — in which she said she had full knowledge of the steps taken by state agencies at the request of her father.
“The lady has remained thankful for the timely help rendered which, even according to her, was absolutely essential and required under the circumstances,” the affidavit said, adding her father and husband also recorded their statements, expressing their agony over the “undemocratic malicious campaign at the risk and cost of an innocent lady”.
The affidavit demanded that Sharma’s plea be dismissed also on the ground of contempt, as he had made personal allegations against Modi in violation of an undertaking given to the court.
It alleged that Sharma’s mobile phone conversations intercepted in 2009 indicated largescale hawala transactions to the US in the name of his wife and the benami purchase of properties, besides illicit relationships that he had with several married woman, which did not include the woman at the centre of the snooping controversy.
“So far as conversations of the applicant with several married women are concerned, they happen to be either subordinate officers or relatives/friends,” the government said. It claimed that these conversations were too vulgar to be put on record.
The government also questioned the absorption of Sharma’s elder brother Kuldeep Sharma, a Gujarat-cadre IPS officer, on central deputation at the fag end of his career despite not being eligible for it, and his post-retirement appointment as an adviser in the home ministry.
Gujarat said these new facts were being brought to the notice of the court to show that the allegations were false and an afterthought, and that Sharma did not deserve any indulgence from the court.
Manish Sisodia has directed the officials of Revenue Department to probe the matter and submit a report.