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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

Snoopgate: Woman, father ask SC to stall probes

Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 06, 2014
First Published: 18:11 IST(6/5/2014) | Last Updated: 10:22 IST(7/5/2014)

The 'snoopgate' controversy took a fresh twist on Tuesday with the woman architect and her father approaching the Supreme Court to immediately stall the Centre's proposed judicial commission on the row and also scrap the existing two-member commission constituted by the Gujarat government.

A bench of Justice Rajana Prakash Desai and Justice NV Ramana issued notice on the petition urging the top court to protect the family's fundamental "right to privacy," while claiming the surveillance was done at their instance.

Response has been sought from the Union Law Ministry and Gujarat government.

Read: Cong fires 10 'snoopgate' questions to Modi

The bench did not pass any immediate stay order and fixed May 9 to hear the matter. It also requested the media not to publish the name of the petitioners.

"Why did you come out with her name in the petition? We cannot gag the media but can only request them," the bench said in response to the petitioners' counsel, senior advocate Ranjit Kumar's plea to direct the media not to reveal his client's name.

The same court is also hearing suspended Gujarat cadre IAS officer Pradeep Sharma's petition alleging the state administration harassed him as he had knowledge about the surveillance over the woman. He has challenged registration of criminal cases against him and has sought CBI probe into the snoopgate controversy.

"In this crossfire between vested interests, the petitioners as collateral damages are subjected to a violation of their fundamental rights on a daily basis," read the woman architect's petition.

Read: Snoopgate probe: Retired Allahabad HC judge tapped

Filed through counsel Bina Madhavan, the petitioners asserted the family had requested for the surveillance. However, a "sinister and defamatory campaign has started in electronic and print media by certain vested interests groups (with whom none of the petitioners) are concerned ostensibly on the ground of protecting the petitioners' right to privacy," it stated.

This has resulted in tarnishing the family's reputation, forcing them to change their residence four times in the past one year. It was further submitted that the emails of the father and daughter have been hacked and scores of indecent calls were being received by the family from all over the country.

The surveillance, it added, never breached their rights. "On the contrary, the petitioners have remained thankful for the timely, appropriate and adequate safety measures taken by the State Government considering the circumstances prevailing then," the petition said.

Read: Snoopgate panel by May 16; BJP says will scrap it

The National Commission for Women started a parallel inquiry and turned down the woman's request to close it as the State Commission for Women had conducted a detailed probe into it, the petitioner stated.

"As part of the said ongoing attempts, the petitioners were shocked to learn from newspapers published in responsible newspapers that the Central government is also contemplating to constitute a commission of enquiry under the provisions of the Enquiries Act," the petition said seeking a stay on any move by the Centre.

Read: Next govt has the right to review UPA's order on 'snoopgate' probe, says Jaitley


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