March 27, 2021 2:10:09 am
A DAY after Maharashtra Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte submitted a report to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on the phone taps carried out by police last year purportedly to investigate the alleged corruption in the transfer of IPS officers, the Mumbai crime branch’s cyber department on Friday registered a case against unidentified persons to find out how the secret inquiry report was leaked earlier this week.
The case was registered on the complaint of the state intelligence department, which had carried out the phone taps while it was being headed by IPS officer Rashmi Shukla. On Thursday, Kunte in his report to the chief minister said Shukla would be investigated for the leak.
The seven-page report of the investigation, signed by Shukla and marked “top secret”, was circulated widely on WhatsApp. Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also claimed to have the call recordings, which contained summary of conversations among those whose phones were tapped.
The report contained the names of several political leaders, including Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Thackeray, among others. It also contained the names of several IPS and state cadre officers who, according to Shukla’s letter, were purportedly in touch with those placed under surveillance for allegedly fixing their transfers.
According to the report, as Commissioner (Intelligence), Shukla had taken permission for her action from then DGP Subodh Jaiswal. She in the report said, “The reason for surveillance was to curtail the commitment of criminal offence (s) and prevent the possible breach of trust.”
Kunte’s report said, “Prima facie, it was found that she deliberately misled and took permission under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885,” whose “provisions were misused for a different purpose”.
It added that the leak of Shukla’s report earlier this week “seems prima facie … a copy from Shukla’s office. It is suspected that she may have leaked (it). The matter was leaked despite the fact that the letter was top-secret and it is a serious matter. If the suspicion is proved, she will be subject to severe action”.
Subsequently, a case was registered under Sections 30 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, 43 (B) and 66 of the Information Technology Act, 2008, and Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923. An assistant commissioner of police from the cyber department is conducting the probe.
Fadnavis said the registration of the case had been done under political pressure. “I know the chief secretary very well. He is a straightforward officer. It is evident from the contents that (his) report (to the chief minister) was made by ministers Nawab Malik and Jitendra Awhad and Kunte signed it and presented it to the chief minister.”
He added the report is misleading to suit the state government, and that “it is full of fallacies”.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.