The National Commission for Women (NCW) has said that it will send a showcause notice to the Gujarat government seeking an explanation on allegations of illegal snooping directed at Gujarat chief minister and BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
The commission has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports on the allegations of illegal surveillance.
On November 15, news portals Cobrapost and Gulail released a report and made public tapes in which Amit Shah, a close aide of Modi, is purportedly heard directing the state police to monitor the movements of a young woman and a senior IAS officer in 2009 when he was Gujarat's minister of state for home at the behest of one "saheb".
The websites alleged three key wings of the Gujarat police were involved in this snooping effort.
"We will send a notice to the Gujarat government on Wednesday asking them to explain whether they followed due process before orders were given to put a young woman under surveillance," Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar, NCW member told HT.
Prabhavalkar said that the Gujarat government would also be asked to seek an explanation from Shah if his order resulted in misuse of government machinery for the purpose of snooping.
Father says no to probe
The father of the young woman in the midst of the snooping row wrote to the NCW and the Gujarat State Commission for Women stating that his request to Modi to keep an eye on his daughter was done with her knowledge.
"It is an earnest wish of my daughter that no further probe (in the snooping issue) is necessary as being politically demanded," he said in his letter.
"My daughter is an architect and an educated person. She is married and deeply perturbed by the intrusion upon her personal life and privacy. To ensure her anonymity, she has requested me to write this letter to the honourable NCW," he said.
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The heat from the snooping scandal intensified on Tuesday with suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma requesting the Supreme Court to take note of it.
He said this was necessary as audio tapes related to the scandal uploaded on news websites contained evidence that the Modi government tried to frame him in "frivolous" cases.
Sharma, a 1984 batch Gujarat cadre IPS officer is facing five criminal cases in connection with alleged irregularities in the allotment of land to private firms in Kutch in 2008. He last served as Bhavnagar Municipal commissioner.
In 2011, he moved the SC demanding a CBI probe into all cases against him, claiming that he was being targeted by the Modi government.
On Tuesday, Sharma's counsel Prashant Bhushan told a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam that Sharma wanted to file an additional application in support of his claim that the Gujarat government tried to frame him.
An important development had taken place since the last hearing, Bhushan said, alluding to the snooping scandal.
The bench asked Sharma to file a formal application after the Gujarat government counsel took objection to an oral statement being made in court. The court fixed December 3 to hear the matter again.
Bhushan told reporters later that his written plea to be filed by the end of this week would demand a CBI probe into the illegal snooping.
Sharma had also claimed that he was being targeted by the chief minister in a January 2011 letter to the chief secretary of Gujarat.
"I believe that the motivation behind and the execution of the arrest are consisting (sic) with confirming the fears of Shri Narendra Modi that I may be in possession of incriminating evidence against the chief minister. My arrest was a manifestation of Modi's personal and political agenda," Sharma said in the letter.
The IAS officer has also accused the Modi government of targeting him because his younger brother Kuldip Sharma, a senior IPS officer in Gujarat, had 'unmasked' Modi's alleged misdeeds after the post-Godhra riots.
"In order to cause prejudice to Kuldip Sharma, the petitioner (Pradeep Sharma) has been victimised by chief minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah," his petition in the SC states.