The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to file an affidavit on a plea by Hardik Patel questioning the legality of interception of his phone calls as well as of his associates, but rejected the defence’s request to share details of certain Home Department orders. The court was hearing a petition, filed by Hardik through his father, seeking all the papers related to phone interception.
Justice J B Pardiwala, after a brief hearing, directed the state government to file an affidavit, stating who gave the orders of telephone interception and when. Public prosecutor Mitesh Amin said that the court, however, didn’t entertain Hardik’s lawyer’s request to direct the state government to place all the papers related to passing order of telephone before the court.
In this petition, Hardik has made state government, Additional Chief Secretary, Home, P K Taneja, Director General of Police P C Thakur, among others, parties in the case. The matter will be heard on December 17.
During arguments, Hardik’s lawyer, B M Mangukiya, asked the government to share all orders given by Home Department permitting city Crime Branch to intercept calls of many Patel quota agitation leaders between August and October. Mangukiya alleged that phone tapping was done without any prior permission from authorities such as Additional Chief Secretary (Home). He termed the act as a ‘breach of privacy’ of citizens.
However, Public Prosecutor Mitesh Amin maintained due process was followed in getting permission. He said calls were intercepted after obtaining consent from authorities at regular intervals and objected to demand to share the orders. After hearing the arguments, Justice J B Pardiwala ruled that government is not required to share these orders. He further asked the government to file a brief affidavit in this regard and posted further hearing for December 16.
The state government will file an affidavit in the High Court in connection with the habeas corpus petition which was moved following the alleged abduction of Hardik past midnight on September 22. A day after, Hardik was seen in Surendranagar district and alleged that he was abducted by the police.
After his appearance in the High Court, the state government requested the court to direct the petitioners to substantiate their allegations. After repeated adjournments, one of the petitioners — Dinesh Bambhaniya’s wife — filed an affidavit on his behalf, stating that whatever they mentioned in the petition holds true. It was Bambhaniya and Chirag Patel who had filed habeas corpus petition, alleging Hardik was kidnapped by police.
In October, Hardik moved the High Court challenging the interception of his and his associates’ phone calls by the police and sought an independent inquiry into it. “The petitioner challenges the legality… of unlawfully tapping telephones not only of the petitioner but of several thousands persons of the Patidar community… which they (police) have admitted in the FIR against the petitioner,” said his plea. The petition alleged that no prior permission was taken to intercept as well as tape the phone calls of quota leaders and others associated with the stir.
Crime Branch had on October 21 registered an FIR against Hardik and his aides Chirag Patel, Ketan Patel, Dinesh Bambhaniya, Alpesh Kathiria and Amrish Patel on charges of sedition and waging war against the government.
In a recent judgement, the High Court struck down the charges of “waging war against government” from the FIR.
Court to hear bail plea today
A local court will hear the bail petition of Patel quota agitation spearhead Hardik Patel and two of his associates Wednesday in a sedition case as the matter was adjourned on Tuesday. Additional Sessions Judge N G Dave adjourned the hearing in the case on Tuesday. PTI