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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

In Phone tapping case, evidence leaked by ministers Awhad, Malik, not Fadnavis: Shukla to HC

Fadnavis had cited a letter purportedly written by Shukla to then DGP about alleged corruption in police transfers.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: October 29, 2021 1:18:36 pm
IPS officer Rashmi Shukla (Express Photo by Pavan Khengre/File)

Senior IPS officer Rashmi Shukla on Thursday told the Bombay High Court that Maharashtra Cabinet ministers Jitendra Awhad and Nawab Malik had leaked evidence on which her report – pertaining to postings and transfers of police officers – was based and not Leader of Opposition in state Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, as claimed by the state government.

Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for Shukla, was arguing before a division bench of Justice Nitin M Jamdar and Justice Sarang V Kotwal that has been hearing Shukla’s plea challenging the First Information Report (FIR) – lodged in March under the Official Secrets Act, 1923 – against unidentified persons for allegedly tapping phones and leaking confidential documents following a complaint by the State Intelligence Department (SID).

The court concluded hearing the plea and kept the matter for directions on Friday.

“Evidence on which report (by Shukla) is based was actually leaked by Jitendra Awhad and Nawab Malik. They are the ones who put main evidence in public domain and not Fadnavis,” Jethmalani said.

“Their press conference is a matter of record. Why nothing is done against their own ministers? This is wholly partial, biased and prejudiced investigation. It is a selective probe meant to target honest officer,” Jethmalani said in his rejoinder seeking quashing of FIR.

The alleged tapping of phones had taken place when Shukla headed SID. She is currently serving as additional director general of CRPF’s South Zone and is posted in Hyderabad.

Fadnavis had cited a letter purportedly written by Shukla to then DGP about alleged corruption in police transfers.

The letter also had details of intercepted calls, leading to an uproar, with leaders of Shiv Sena-led government alleging that Shukla tapped phones without permission.

The Maharashtra government, through senior advocate Darius Khambata, had told the HC on October 25 that Shukla has not been named as accused in the “illegal” phone tapping case FIR and that probe should continue as there is substantial material against her.

The state said the investigation involves three pen drives requisitioned by Shukla, which contained information kept in SID servers.

Two of them, including the one sent to then state DGP, are being tracked and are with the government.

Therefore, her interrogation is vital to the investigation, the state has said.

The government has further said that it has been writing to Union Ministry of Home Affairs to hand over the pen drive in its possession, which the state believes was given to the ministry by Fadnavis to ascertain whether it is the same third pen drive sought by the state to verify the leak.

“Today, their only case is Shukla had extra pen drive and they want to match if it was leaked from that. They interrogated me for two days in Hyderabad. They did not ask about this. Nothing was put to me since my departure from the SID on this. Based on press conferences of Awhad and Malik, the Supreme Court noticed that the material is in public domain. They are their own ministers. It is a matter of highest contempt on the part of the state of HC it has insulted,” Jethmalani said on Shukla’s behalf.

“It is an one-sided investigation without any high principle to file FIR. There was no infringement of state’s interest from her. What is the state doing about persons who have done much more (alleged corruption in transfers and postings),” he added.

After the court sought to know what was Shukla’s response on possession of the pen drive, Jethmalani said, “My client has not taken anything from SID… the FIR be quashed.”

 

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