October 19, 2021 11:34:53 pm
The Delhi Police has sent another summons to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s Officer on Special Duty, Lokesh Sharma, in connection with the phone tapping case.
Sharma has been asked by the Delhi Police to appear at its office at 11 am on October 22, in connection with the FIR lodged by Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on March 25 this year, where 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’s Crime Branch on July 24 but had skipped it. In his reply back then, Sharma had said that he can’t travel for “personal reasons” for the next two weeks but can appear subsequently. He had said that if there is any “urgency” and if Delhi Police wants to speak to him within those two weeks, he is available via video conferencing at a suitable time and that if any information is required from his end, they may send him the questions. However, the Delhi Police did not issue a summons until now. Sharma is yet to take a call on whether he’ll go to Delhi this time.
Meanwhile, the matter has also been pending in the Delhi High Court, where Sharma had prayed for the 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.
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 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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