November 10, 2021 2:50:27 am
The Delhi Police on Tuesday sent its third summons to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s Officer on Special Duty, Lokesh Sharma, in connection with the phone tapping case, stating that non-compliance of the summons this time may led to his arrest.
However, the case has also been pending with the Delhi High Court, which had stayed any “coercive action” by Delhi Police against Sharma, until further orders.
Sharma has been asked by the Delhi Police to appear at its office at November 12, in connection with the FIR lodged by Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on March 25 this year, in which Sharma is an accused. In his complaint, Singh had accused Sharma and others of criminal conspiracy and “unlawfully intercepting telegraphic signals (telephonic conversation).”
Earlier, Sharma had been summoned by Delhi Police Crime Branch on July 24 and October 2 this year, but had skipped the first one citing personal reasons. He had planned to go for the second summons but had to return while on the way due to a “family emergency.”
This time, the Delhi Police is learnt to have said that non-compliance with the notice may lead to arrest under section 41 A (3) and (4) of the CrPC. The sub-section 4 states that if a person summoned by the police, at any time, 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.
Sources said that in the notice, Sharma has been given several directions, and mainly seeks his full cooperation with the investigation.
Sharma is said to be taking legal opinion on the summons, since the case has been pending in the Delhi High Court where he had prayed for quashing of the FIR. The High Court had stayed any coercive action by Delhi Police against Sharma until further orders. The next hearing in the matter is on January 13.
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 skipped the summons citing several reasons, including the on-going case in the High Court.
Last year, the leak of 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 the then deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot leading a rebellion of 19 Congress MLAs. Of these, bar Vishvendra Singh, Joshi had named other three in his complaint with the ACB last year.
Following The Indian Express report in March which stated that the government had accepted 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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