Updated: December 6, 2021 5:47:30 am
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s Officer on Special Duty, Lokesh Sharma, will appear before the Delhi Police on Monday in connection with the phone tapping case.
This will be Sharma’s first appearance before the Delhi Police, which has sent four summonses to Sharma so far. The latest one, asking him to appear on December 6, had reiterated 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 had skipped the first summons citing personal reasons and had planned to go for the second but had returned midway due to a “family emergency”.
For the third, he had 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 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.
Unlike the first two summonses, the third summons had warned of arrest for non-compliance despite a Delhi High Court order staying any “coercive action” against Sharma until further orders. The fourth summons reiterated this warning. The next hearing in the Delhi High Court is on January 13.
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)”.
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 then Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot leading a rebellion of 19 Congress MLAs.
The Congress’s Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi had on the basis of the audio clips 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 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.
The Indian Express had in a report in March stated 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 Sharma had prepared and circulated the voice clips, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal had, during a debate in the State 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 in Delhi.
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