Snoopgate row: Gujarat HC quashes government's probe panel on family's request

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Amit Shah
Ahmedabad, Oct 10: In a major development in the alleged snoopgate controversy, the Gujarat High Court on Friday quashed the probe set up by the state government to investigate into the reports of a young woman architect, who was tailed by Gujarat police allegedly on the orders of the then MoS home Amit Shah and Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

As per a TOI report, the HC quashed the probe panel's appointment in response to a petition filed by the architect's father Pranlal Soni, who demanded to put an end to the issue on the ground that the existence and functioning of this commission are in breach of his family's privacy.

Soni filed the petition on Thursday and Justice Paresh Upadhyay heard the case, sought the state government's opinion and quashed the setting up of the probe panel.

Earlier on May 7, the woman moved the Supreme Court along with her father for restraining the Centre and state government from going ahead with their commissions of inquiry.

The joint-petition, filed by them, was mentioned before a bench comprising Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and NV Ramana, which said it cannot pass an interim order for staying proceedings without hearing the parties.

The bench issued notices to the Centre and the Gujarat Government seeking their replies for hearing on May 9. The petition also sought protection of their fundamental right to privacy and right to live with dignity.

The apex court also requested the media not to make public the name of the woman.

A controversy broke out last year when two news portals released CDs of purported telephonic conversations between Narendra Modi aide Amit Shah, who was then state Home Minister, and two top state police officials relating to snooping on a woman architect in 2009.

The conversations, purportedly between August and September 2009, do not specifically mention Modi by name but refers to a 'saheb', which the portals claimed was the Gujarat Chief Minister at whose instance the snooping was done, a charge denied by Shah.

While the Gujarat government constituted an inquiry commission in November last year, the Union Cabinet also decided to follow suit. However, a major controversy broke out when in first week of May, senior ministers announced that the name of the judge to head the commission would be announced.

The central government beat a retreat after two allies of the Congress objected to such a move in the "dying days" of UPA II.

The petitioners also pleaded that the state government be asked not to proceed with the proceedings of the commission constituted by it on November 26, 2013.

(With inputs from agencies)

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