The Supreme Court Tuesday sought replies from the Centre and the Gujarat government after the woman architect and her father, who are at the centre of the snooping controversy linked to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, petitioned that they be prohibited from probing the episode.
A bench led by Justice Ranjana P Desai issued notices to the governments and sought their counter affidavits by Friday. The court did not issue any interim order on restraining the authorities saying it first needed to hear them. It also requested the media not to make the woman’s name public.
Asserting the right to privacy and right to live with dignity, the petition said the woman was satisfied with the safety measures taken by the Gujarat government when her life was under threat and the court now needed to put an end to the “sinister campaign” to target her and her family’s reputation.
“The constitution of commission by the state government is wholly unwarranted and unjustified. The attempt being made by the central government to constitute a similar commission which would necessarily infringe upon and encroach upon right to privacy of the petitioners and their family which would clearly be unwarranted and unjustified and would be violative of the fundamental rights of the petitioners and their family members as guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution,” said the petition.
It questioned why the governments have gone ahead with decisions to set up commissions of inquiry even after knowing that the woman, who it said is now happily married, had approached the National Commission for Women and Gujarat State Commission for Women.
They claimed that the malicious campaign had led them to change house four times in a few months and their e-mail accounts were hacked and indecent calls are being made to them.
In the petition, they also took objection to suspended Gujarat IAS officer Pradeep Sharma raising the snooping controversy and seeking a CBI probe based on what they said were unverified and unauthenticated contents published by two web portals. Sharma’s petition is pending in the SC.
Referring to the news portals Cobrapost and Gulail airing audio tapes featuring the alleged illegal surveillance of the woman, Sharma has sought a probe into the case by the CBI or by a special investigation team.
In reply to his petition, the Gujarat government has accused the central government of “connivance” for an “engineered controversy” into the snooping row. It has claimed that not only the father but the woman was also aware that she was being tracked by state agencies and that she remained “thankful” for it.