Illegal phone tapping case: Do you intend to arraign Rashmi Shukla as accused, HC asks Mumbai Police

The alleged phone tapping had taken place when Rashmi Shukla was heading the SID, which came in for sharp criticism by the current ruling coalition, wherein they have alleged that Shukla had tapped phones without proper permissions
Bombay high court (HC) has asked Mumbai Police to clarify whether it intends to arraign senior IPS officer Rashmi Shukla and former commissioner of the state intelligence department (SID) as accused in the illegal phone tapping case registered by it. (Pratham Gokhale/HT PHOTO)
Bombay high court (HC) has asked Mumbai Police to clarify whether it intends to arraign senior IPS officer Rashmi Shukla and former commissioner of the state intelligence department (SID) as accused in the illegal phone tapping case registered by it. (Pratham Gokhale/HT PHOTO)
Published on Oct 21, 2021 09:56 PM IST
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ByKAY Dodhiya, Mumbai

The Bombay high court (HC) has asked Mumbai Police to clarify whether it intends to arraign senior IPS officer Rashmi Shukla and former commissioner of the state intelligence department (SID) as accused in the illegal phone tapping case registered by it, and also submit a report on the progress of the probe. Meanwhile, the state has not extended its statement of no coercive action including arrest against former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, which it had made in May.

A division bench of justice Nitin Jamdar and justice Sarang Kotwal, while hearing Shukla’s petition which sought quashing of the first information report (FIR) lodged against her by the cyber cell of the Mumbai Police in March under the Official Secrets Act, 1923, was informed by senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani that the FIR was based on a complaint by the SID against unidentified persons for allegedly tapping phones and leaking confidential documents. Jethmalani submitted that while the FIR did not name Shukla as an accused, the state government was using it as a means of pressurising her.

While referring to the affidavit filed by the state government in response to the petition, Jethmalani stressed that though the government reiterated that Shukla was not an accused in the case, they were acting arbitrarily and with a vendetta against her. Jethmalani further submitted that the FIR was an attempt by the state to derail the investigation in the Anil Deshmukh case and avoid judicial and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or Enforcement Directorate (ED) scrutiny of the documents that had been submitted by Shukla to her superior.

The alleged tapping of phones had taken place when Shukla was heading the SID which came in for sharp criticism by the current ruling coalition wherein they have alleged that Shukla had tapped phones without proper permissions from the relevant authorities.

Jethmalani submitted that Shukla had maintained secrecy and only did her duty as per the mandate given to her. While seeking quashing of the FIR, Jethmalani suggested that as the CBI was already investigating the corruption case it should be allowed to investigate the alleged phone tapping case as well and sought transfer of the probe from Mumbai Police to the central agency.

However, senior advocate Darius Khambata appearing for the state government said that Shukla was not named in the FIR and as the Mumbai Police probe was only pertaining to data leak and not whether the phone tapping was authorised or not, hence the petition should be dismissed.

After hearing the arguments, the bench sought to know from Mumbai Police whether it intended to arraign Shukla as an accused as it was not inclined to waste judicial time in hearing the petition. The bench then granted liberty to Shukla to approach the court if she was named as an accused, to which the state government assured that it would not take any coercive action against Shukla till the next hearing on Monday, October 25.

Meanwhile, the state government did not continue its May 24 assurance that no coercive action, including arrest, would be taken against former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh who is seeking quashing of an FIR lodged against him by Thane Police under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2021