June 4, 2021 1:35:47 am
Granting relief to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Lokesh Sharma, the Delhi High Court on Thursday stayed any coercive action by Delhi Police against Sharma, until further orders, in the phone tapping case.
Sharma had approached the Delhi HC seeking quashing of the FIR against him, which was lodged in March this year on a complaint by Rajasthan MP and Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. In his complaint against Sharma, Singh had accused Sharma and others of criminal conspiracy and “unlawfully intercepting telegraphic signals (telephonic conversation).”
The matter pertains to call recordings involving one alleged “Gajendra Singh” and others, which were leaked in mid-2020 and led to a political crisis in Rajasthan, with the then Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot leading a rebellion of 19 Congress MLAs.
The BJP had then accused the Gehlot government of tapping phones of its leaders, a charge denied by CM Gehlot himself. His government had claimed that phones of some persons – who are not public representatives – were being intercepted last year following intelligence inputs when their conversations with politicians also came tumbling out.
During the hearing, Sharma’s lawyer Siddharth Agarwal said that since the matter is already being heard in Rajasthan, why was an FIR lodged in Delhi, and that Delhi police cannot investigate this case. He also said that if Sharma receives a clip and then shares it with media houses, then he isn’t the actual source of the clips.
Appearing for Delhi Police, Rajesh Mahajan justified the case and said that a case can indeed be registered in Delhi. However, Justice Suresh Kumar Kait observed that when the clip was received by Sharma, he was in Rajasthan, and that he shared the clip from there itself, so it means that it comes under the jurisdiction of Rajasthan. Shekhawat’s lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani, however, said that it also falls under the jurisdiction of Delhi.
The court then asked why the FIR shouldn’t be transferred to Rajasthan. Jethmalani objected, saying that the matter is already being heard. The Court then said that since all the developments took place in Rajasthan, why the lone FIR is being investigated in Delhi.
The High Court subsequently issued notices and directed the Rajasthan and Delhi police to file status reports in the case within two weeks. The court also asked Shekhawat to file his reply, and listed the matter for hearing on August 6.
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