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FIR bid against Modi in snoop row
Cops refuse on ‘sub-judice’ plea

Narendra Modi

Ahmedabad, Jan. 6: Gujarat police today allegedly refused to register an FIR against Narendra Modi and key political aide Amit Shah in connection with the accusations of illegal surveillance on a young woman architect.

The allegation came from suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma, who accuses the Gujarat government of victimising and spying on him because of his knowledge of the matter.

He told a news conference he would “shortly” approach the courts to direct the police to register an FIR.

Sharma said an OC and later a superintendent of police told him that since a state-appointed judicial commission was probing the charges, the matter was sub judice and an FIR could not be registered.

He said that after he cited a recent Supreme Court order that said an FIR must be registered if the alleged offence is cognisable, the police accepted a complaint (but not an FIR) and promised a preliminary inquiry.

But Sharma, who expressed scepticism about the police’s intentions, told reporters that a preliminary inquiry wasn’t required in case of a cognisable offence and that only an FIR could ensure an investigation.

He also argued that the judicial commission, which has to send its report to the Assembly by end-February, could only make recommendations and couldn’t go into the “criminality” of the matter. It’s the police who have to register an FIR, investigate and prosecute, he said.

The Union home ministry too has ordered a probe over charges that the alleged surveillance had continued beyond Gujarat’s borders but hasn’t yet formed the inquiry commission.

Pradeep Sharma in Gandhinagar on Monday; (Above) Amit Shah. (PTI)

Sharma had earlier told the Supreme Court that the Modi government had framed him in corruption cases because he knew about the snooping. He alleged his phone was tapped along with the woman architect’s and, being the aggrieved party, he has the locus standi to file an FIR.

He told reporters he had gone to Gandhinagar police station today and asked an FIR be registered on the basis of two news portals’ claims that in August 2009, then home minister Shah had ordered the spying at the behest of his “Saheb”.

The websites claim to have accessed audiotapes that the CBI possesses but, according to a PTI report, says these tapes’ authenticity cannot be confirmed.

Sharma said that after J.M. Bharwad, the OC, agreed to accept only a complaint, he approached Gandhinagar superintendent of police Sharad Singhal but he too refused to have an FIR registered, pointing to the judicial probe.

According to a PTI report, Singhal said Sharma’s application had been accepted but refused to elaborate.

Mukul Sinha, Sharma’s lawyer, told The Telegraph the police had been caught unawares as they had not expected anyone to try and lodge an FIR against the chief minister.

So far, the police and the BJP have been using the shield that the alleged victim did not want an investigation, he said.

After the Congress started playing up “snoopgate” and demanding a probe, the BJP had claimed that the woman’s father knew Modi and, worried about her safety, had requested the surveillance for her protection.

In November, the National Commission for Women had received a letter purportedly written by the woman’s father. It said his daughter was now married and didn’t want the matter probed. It added that the surveillance was carried out with his daughter’s knowledge.

The Gujarat Congress plans a two-phase, state-wide yatra from January 7 to 12 and from January 19 to 23 to highlight the controversy, state unit president Arjun Modhwadia said. The yatra is to end at Dandi.