GANDHINAGAR : The Gujarat High Court on Friday ordered the scrapping of the Sugnya Bhatt Commission set up by the then chief minister and present Prime Minister Narendra Modi to probe the alleged ‘snoopgate scandal’ as it did not serve any public interest.

Upholding the contention of the father of the woman whose surveillance by the Gujarat police was under scrutiny, Justice Paresh Upadhyay agreed that it infringed on his privacy as well as that of his daughter.

The petitioner had contended that he and his daughter were not aggrieved over the alleged surveillance and therefore the state government had no right to constitute the inquiry commission which invaded her privacy.

A commission headed by retired high court judge Sugnya Bhatt with former additional chief secretary KC Kapoor was set up in November 2009 after two news portals released audio-tapes purportedly of conversations between then minister of state for home and present BJP president, Amit Shah, and the then suspended IPS officer GL Singhal on shadowing a woman architect allegedly at the behest of the then chief minister.

Both Shah and Singhal were accused in fake encounter cases and had spent extended time behind bars before being bailed out. Though the fake encounter cases continue, Singhal has since been reinstated.

The commission was asked to submit its report within three months after establishing the truth behind the tailing of the woman. It was also asked to probe into the conspiracy angle as the tapes had been allegedly made public after a gap of almost four years. The panel was also asked to probe whether the incidents, as reported by the portal, actually took place and the facts and circumstances leading to the alleged surveillance and also whether breach of any legal provision was involved.

The issue shot into national headlines because of the political implications of the controversy as chief minister Modi was emerging as the bulwark of a national challenge being thrown by the BJP to the Congress led UPA government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh .The Congress had alleged that the ‘saheb’ who figured in the tapes was actually the then Gujarat chief minister at whose behest the surveillance had been ordered.

RK MISRA

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