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Phone tapping case: Delhi Police sends fourth summons to Gehlot’s OSD, reiterates ‘turn up or face arrest’

Earlier, Sharma was summoned by Delhi Police on July 24, October 2 and November 12 this year. He has skipped all summonses so far.

Written by Hamza Khan | Jaipur |
December 2, 2021 7:09:27 pm
The Delhi Police Crime Branch had also issued summons to Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi, asking him to appear before it on June 24. (File photo)

Delhi Police sent its fourth summons to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s Officer on Special Duty Lokesh Sharma to appear before it on December 6 in connection with the phone tapping case, reiterating that non-compliance of the summons may lead to his arrest.

Earlier, Sharma was summoned by Delhi Police on July 24, October 2 and November 12 this year. He has skipped all summonses so far — the first citing personal reasons and had planned to go for the second but returned midway due to a “family emergency”.

For the third, he told Delhi Police that he is unable to travel out of Jaipur as his father is unwell and that he has been advised not to leave him. He had also said that he is available to respond to their queries at a suitable time and if any information is required of him, they may send him a questionnaire.

The repeated summonses to Sharma are in connection with an FIR lodged by Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on March 25 this year. Shekhawat had accused Sharma and others of criminal conspiracy and “unlawfully intercepting telegraphic signals (telephonic conversation)”.

Unlike the first two summonses, the third summons had warned of arrest for non-compliance despite Delhi High Court having stayed “coercive action” against Sharma until further orders. The fourth summons reiterates this warning.

While in the first two notices he was summoned as a witness under Section 160 of the CrPC, Delhi Police cited CrPC Section 41A (4), in its third summons and has now cited the same law again in the latest summons. Section 41A (4) deals with an accused and if the said person “fails to comply with the terms of the notice or is unwilling to identify himself, the police officer may, subject to such orders as may have been passed by a competent court in this behalf, arrest him for the offence mentioned in the notice.”

On the day of his third summons, Sharma had also moved an application with the Delhi High Court for early hearing of his case, where he had prayed for quashing the FIR against him. At the case hearing in the High Court then, Sharma’s counsel had questioned Delhi Police’s “intentions.”

Sharma had submitted before the bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad that the police have proceeded with the third summons, which warns of an arrest, although the court had stayed any coercive action against him. Delhi Police then assured the court that no “coercive action” would be taken against Sharma until further orders from the court.

However, Delhi Police have now warned of an arrest once again and Sharma is yet to take a call on whether he will appear before it this time around.

The Delhi Police Crime Branch had also issued summons to Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi, asking him to appear before it on June 24. Joshi had termed it “political malice, unwarranted pressure”, and had “challenged” Shekhawat to give his voice samples in the case. He too had skipped the summons citing several reasons, including the ongoing case in the High Court.

Last year, the leaked audio tapes allegedly involving one Gajendra Singh, Sanjay Jain, as well as Congress MLAs Bhanwarlal Sharma and Vishvendra Singh, had led to a political crisis in Rajasthan, with then Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot leading a rebellion of 19 Congress MLAs. Joshi had named all these individuals except Vishvendra Singh in his complaint with the ACB last year.

Following a report by The Indian Express in March this year, which stated that the government had accepted that phones were tapped during the political crisis last year, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal had, during a debate in the state Assembly, virtually accepted that the clips were shared by Sharma.

Defending the CM’s OSD, he had said, “If Lokesh Sharma gets something and forwards it on a WhatsApp group, what sin has he committed? Don’t you do it too? And why shouldn’t he send? You say he made it viral, why shouldn’t he make it viral? You say that Lokesh Sharma made the clippings. Give evidence.”

Days later, Shekhawat lodged an FIR against Sharma in Delhi.

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