Updated: October 21, 2021 6:45:09 am
A division bench of Justice Nitin M Jamdar and Justice Sarang V Kotwal of the Bombay High Court on Wednesday began hearing a plea filed by senior IPS officer Rashmi Shukla and former commissioner of the state intelligence department (SID), against an “illegal” phone tapping case registered by the Mumbai Police.
Shukla’s plea challenged the FIR, lodged in March under the Official Secrets Act, 1923, at BKC cyber police station, against unidentified persons for allegedly tapping phones and leaking confidential documents following a complaint by the SID.
The alleged tapping of phones had taken place when Shukla headed the SID. Currently, the additional director general of CRPF’s South Zone, she is posted in Hyderabad.
BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis had cited a letter purportedly written by Shukla to then DGP about alleged corruption in transfers of police officers. The letter also had mentioned details of intercepted calls, with the Shiv Sena-led ruling coalition alleging that Shukla tapped phones without permission.
Senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for Shukla, reiterated that Maharashtra government’s action was an “attempt to keep a gun against her (Shukla) head”. He added that Shukla has performed her duty as per mandate given to her and maintained secrecy as per the law.
Jethmalani argued, “While they (state) say that Rashmi shukla report/inquiry was a roving probe, why do they invoke Official Secrets Act against her?”
He alleged that the government has been shielding Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, who had sanctioned phone tapping as then additional chief secretary, and the FIR was lodged to suppress the crime of corruption in police transfers and postings by protecting criminals. “There is a serious attempt to avoid judicial and CBI or ED scrutiny of these documents,” he added.
Earlier, the state had assured that no coercive steps, including arrest, will be taken against Shukla till October 21. The bench will continue hearing the matter on Thursday.
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