Senior union ministers Sushilkumar Shinde and Kapil Sibal on Friday said a judicial panel to probe Snoopgate would be in place before May 16 — the counting day — provoking BJP’s Arun Jaitley to warn that the new government would be within its rights to revisit the “malafide decision”.
Hindustan Times was the first to report, on April 29, the renewed efforts at the home ministry to appoint a judge to head the panel in the backdrop of Congress leaders sharpening attacks against the BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi for allegedly getting police to stalk a young woman.
“The Centre has no right to form a commission in the middle of an election,” Jaitley said, calling the government’s hurry as an “admission of defeat”.
“I’m worried that if a chief minister can put a woman under surveillance, what will happen to the women in the country if he becomes the prime minister,” home minister Shinde told reporters in Shimla.
The cabinet had in December decided to set up an inquiry panel but has not been able to find a judge willing to take up the job.
Law minister Sibal brushed aside BJP’s barbs about UPA’s inability to pick a judge, confident that the appointment would be made before May 16. Home ministry sources, however, indicated that the government was still struggling to identify the judge. The latest list had six names, two of them serving judges, officials said. One of them, a sitting judge, on who they had rested their hopes, had already tur ned down the of fer, a source indicated. The ministry was again exploring the option of naming a retired judge, the source said. “Let us see,” he said.