July 23, 2021 8:55:18 am
The crime branch of the Delhi Police has summoned Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s officer-on-special-duty (OSD), 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 July 24, in connection with an FIR lodged by Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat earlier on March 25 this year, in which Sharma is an accused. In his complaint, Shekhawat had accused Sharma and others of criminal conspiracy and “unlawfully intercepting telegraphic signals (telephonic conversation).”
When contacted by The Indian Express, Sharma confirmed that he received the notice on Wednesday.
However, Sharma is unlikely to go for questioning as the matter is already being heard by the Delhi High Court, where he had prayed for the quashing of the FIR.
Earlier, on June 3, the court had stayed any coercive action by Delhi Police against Sharma until further orders. The next hearing in the matter is on August 6.
Last month, the Delhi Police Crime Branch had also issued summons to Congress Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi, asking him to appear before it on June 24. He skipped the summons citing several reasons, including the on-going case in the High Court. Joshi had termed it “political malice, unwarranted pressure” and had “challenged” Shekhawat to give his voice samples in the case.
The summons to Sharma, his first in the case, come days after a Jaipur court issued directions to a subordinate court to take voice samples of Shekhawat and alleged middleman Sanjay Jain in the case, which is also being investigated by the Rajasthan Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) since last year. During the hearing in the case lodged in Delhi by Shekhawat, the HC had asked why the FIR shouldn’t be transferred to Rajasthan, saying that since all the developments took place in Rajasthan, why the lone FIR is being investigated in Delhi.
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 last year.
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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