Updated: December 7, 2021 5:19:41 am
THE DELHI Police Crime Branch questioned Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Lokesh Sharma in connection with an alleged phone tapping case for about three hours on Monday.
Police sources said Sharma arrived with his lawyer at around 11.30 am. “We asked him 30 questions… he tried to mislead the investigators by giving vague answers,” said a senior police officer.
“I was summoned for questioning and I joined the investigation. There is no information about the next questioning,” Sharma told reporters.
This was Sharma’s first appearance before the Delhi Police. He was earlier summoned on July 24, October 2 and November 12 this year. He skipped the first summons citing personal reasons. When he was summoned in October, he reportedly planned to go, but had to return midway due to a “family emergency”. And in November, he told police he was unable to travel out of Jaipur as his father was unwell.
While summoning him the last two times, police warned of arrest in case of non-compliance. Apprehending arrest, Sharma had approached the Delhi High Court requesting early hearing of his petition for quashing the FIR against him. The high court had stayed any coercive action against him until further orders. The next hearing is on January 13.
On March 25 this year, Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat had filed an FIR in Delhi, accusing Sharma and others of criminal conspiracy and “unlawfully intercepting telegraphic signals (telephonic conversation)”.
In July last year, audio clips of purported telephone conversations between a Gajendra Singh and some Congress leaders had surfaced, amid a rebellion against Gehlot by his then deputy Sachin Pilot and party MLAs supporting him. On the basis of the purported audio tapes, the Congress’s chief whip, Mahesh Joshi, had registered FIRs with the Anti Corruption Bureau and the Special Operations Group (SOG).
The Delhi Police Crime Branch had also issued summons to Joshi, asking him to appear before it on June 24. Joshi skipped the summons, terming it as “political malice”, and “challenged” Shekhawat to give his voice samples in the case.
In March this year, The Indian Express had reported that the government had accepted that phones were tapped during the political crisis last year. Defending the CM’s OSD against the Opposition’s allegation that he had prepared and circulated the voice clips, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal had, during a debate in the Assembly, 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 and others in Delhi.
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