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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

No judge will be part of snoopgate probe: Jaitley

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 01, 2014
First Published: 14:35 IST(1/5/2014) | Last Updated: 16:20 IST(1/5/2014)

Reacting to media reports that the Centre might soon name a judge for the snoopgate commission, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley on Thursday said he would be surprised if someone agreed to "lend" himself to the Union government for a "political and malafide" move.

In a Facebook post, Jaitley wrote all the judges approached by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had refused to be a part of the "desperate" exercise.

"Media reports have indicated that the lame duck UPA Government is finally planning to name a judge for the 'Snoopgate' Commission…I will be very curious to know the name of the Judge who has agreed to 'lend' himself to the UPA.

"I will be surprised if there is one. I hope, for the cause of judicial dignity, no one agrees to be a part of this desperate exercise," he wrote, adding that 438 (of the 543) constituencies had already seen polling.

Seven of nine phases of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections have ended and the formation of a new government is around two weeks away.

Jaitley's reaction came three days after Union law minister Kapil Sibal told the media that the UPA would appoint a judge to probe the snoopgate scandal before the result day on May 16.

Jaitley, who made his Lok Sabha poll debut this year, wrote, "The Commission of Inquiry is already on in Gujarat. Both the lady in question and her family have already sent their statements to the National Women's Commission."

The snooping controversy had surfaced in the run-up to the assembly elections late last year after two investigative news websites made public tapes in which Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's aide Amit Shah was purportedly heard directing the police to put a young woman and a senior IAS officer under surveillance in 2009.

Modi has drawn flak from rival political leaders, including Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, over the controversy in this election season.

On Tuesday, Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal had alleged the central government was reluctant to act against Modi, asking whether there was an understanding between the BJP's prime ministerial nominee and the Congress party.

The Centre, however, in December 2013 had announced that a commission would be set up to look into the alleged illegal surveillance by the Gujarat Police at the behest of Shah. But it failed to appoint a judge in four months.

Meanwhile, the Gujarat government announced a two-member inquiry commission, headed by a former Gujarat high court judge, Justice Sugnya Bhatt, to look into the allegations.

The commission is conducting the probe according to the terms of reference given by the Modi administration.


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