The Congress on Sunday demanded that a sitting Supreme Court judge probe allegations that the Gujarat police in 2009 illegally monitored the movement and phone calls of a young woman on the instructions of Amit Shah, then Gujarat minister of state for home, at the behest of one “saheb”.
Demanding the probe, senior Congress leaders — Jayanthi Natarajan, Girija Vyas, Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Shobha Oza — said if the allegations are found to be correct, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi “does not deserve” to be the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
They questioned whether a person with such a disregard for individual privacy guaranteed by the Constitution deserves to hold public office.
“If government machinery is misused… Modi has no moral and political right to govern Gujarat... He does not deserve to be the PM candidate of BJP”, Joshi said, addressing a joint press conference along with Vyas, Natarajan and Oza at the AICC headquarters.
On November 15, news portals Cobrapost and Gulail released a report and made public tapes in which 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. The websites alleged three key wings of the Gujarat police were involved in this snooping effort.
“Can he violate the law by snooping upon every conversation of the girl? Can the chief minister be allowed to use the entire state resources to snoop and invade the privacy of one young woman even if her father made that request? It is shameful,” Natarajan asked, adding the expose raised some very serious questions. “Under what provision of the law was the Indian Telegraph Act violated? Who should be punished for these violations?” she asked.
The BJP dismissed the allegations, saying it was the Congress that was invading the young woman’s privacy as the complainant in this case was not the woman concerned or her family, but a political outfit.
“The girl’s father has admitted that he had approached Modi to seek help for his daughter. Her fundamental right has not been violated by the Gujarat government but by the Congress and its surrogates who have brought a private matter to the public purview, raising questions about her honour and integrity. Neither Prashant Bhushan nor the women holding the press conference are related to the girl in question and have no locus,” said BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi.
Lekhi accused the Congress of trying to make political capital out of the private life of the woman concerned. “A case of legal protection, which police is duty bound to provide to anyone, has been turned into stalking,” she added.