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Suspended IAS officer to request SC to take cognizance of tapes in snooping row

Pradeep Sharma claimed the letter by woman's father is an old one and was released in panic.

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad/new Delhi | Published: November 19, 2013 4:31:15 am

Pradeep Sharma,the suspended IAS officer who is also a staunch critic of the Modi government,is likely to request the Supreme Court to take cognizance of the audio tapes aired by news portals Cobrapost and Gulail featuring alleged illegal surveillance of a woman architect.

The news portals have claimed that the surveillance was conducted by the Gujarat ATS in 2009 on the instructions of Amit Shah,a close aide of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi,and who was then minister of state for home.

Sharma,who filed a writ petition before the apex court in 2011 seeking transfer of the case against him from Gujarat Police to the CBI,had cited his (Sharma’s) “knowledge” about the woman and her association with the government — the same woman purportedly referred to in the audio tapes — as one of the reasons for his ouster.

His case is likely to come up before the SC on Tuesday.

The tapes were reportedly submitted by suspended IPS officer G L Singhal,an accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case,to the CBI.

Hours after the tapes were aired last Friday,the BJP had issued a statement from the woman’s father,identified as Pranlal Soni,that he had “orally requested” Modi to “take care” of his daughter.

Sharma claims this is an old letter. He told The Indian Express: “My conjecture is that they obtained the letter from the father in 2011 and,in panic,released it after the tapes were aired.” Sharma,who was arrested in January 2010,had written a letter to then Gujarat Chief Secretary A K Joti on January 19,2011,requesting that his cases to be transferred to the CBI. In that letter — as in the affidavit to the Supreme Court — he had claimed that the state government had taken “vindictive actions” against him because he was aware of the woman.

When contacted,Joti,who retired last year,said: “I do not remember this two-year-old thing’’.

Current Chief Secretary Varesh Sinha said: “All these are record-based things. Without going through the records I cannot comment on this”.

When asked about Sharma’s letter alleging that the CM targeted him,government spokesperson Nitin Patel said,“I do not have any such information”.

Sharma is a younger brother of IPS (retired) Kuldip Sharma,who fell out of favour of the Modi government and sought a deputation at the Centre. Following his retirement,he was appointed an advisor to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Pradeep Sharma,who last served as Bhavnagar Municipal Commissioner,was arrested on January 6,2010 in a case involving alleged irregularities in Kutch earthquake rehabilitation. He faces five cases,mostly land related,and also dealing with charges of conspiracy,forgery and misuse of government office.

Sharma and four other deputy collectors were arrested in a case related to the collapse of the wholesale grain market in Bhuj in the January 26,2001 earthquake,after which the government allotted shops on the same site to construct a new grain market. The officers were accused of allotting these plots to non-beneficiaries.

The second case accuses Sharma of allotting land to a textile manufacturing group in Anjar taluka for a pittance during his posting as Kutch district collector between 2003 and 2007.

The Supreme Court stayed trial in the grain market case. Sharma was bailed out in December 2011 by an order of the SC.

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