FPJ Legal: Bombay HC allows state to question IPS officer Rashmi Shukla at her Hyderabad residence

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court bench of Justice SS Shinde and Manish Pitale, on Thursday, granted Maharashtra government permission to question senior IPS officer Rashmi Shukla at her residence in Hyderabad under section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), and also to video record her statement after the state agreed to not take any coercive action against her till the next hearing.

Senior counsel Darius Khambata appearing for Maharashtra state sought the court’s permission to send a team of police officials to question Shukla at her residence in Hyderabad after she expressed her difficulty, in a reply to a summons issued, to come down to Mumbai due to the present pandemic condition. Khambata also sought permission from the court to video record her statement, and further sought that apart from her lawyer nobody else should be present.

Senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani appearing for Shukla did not object Khambata’s contention of questioning Shukla at her residence, but sought for interim protection from arrest. Khambata, after taking instructions, informed the court that no coercive action will be taken against Shukla till the next date of hearing.

Shukla had moved the high court on Monday seeking an urgent hearing and a directive to Mumbai police not to take any coercive action against her in accordance with the FIR lodged into alleged phone tapping case. Stating that instead of applauding her work of exposing police and ministers nexus in postings she is being framed and that she apprehends her arrest in the case.

In her plea through advocate Sameer Nangre, the senior officer has said that state government is only trying to "arm-twist her by filing bogus and frivolous cases."

"I beg to approach this court for urgent relief orders of no coercive action against me by the Mumbai Police in accordance to the FIR lodged by its cyber cell department," Shukla, a 1988 batch IPS officer stated in her plea.

The application further read, "I have exposed the nexus between the ministers and politicians and other gross corruption involved in assigning postings to police officers. This itself reveals my integrity and courage in performing my official duties and making best endeavours to expose and eliminate corruption by bringing the guilty to the book."

Shukla also said, "Instead of applauding or appreciating my work the government authorities are involved in framing me in false cases."

Shukla has accordingly urged the Registrar to place her petition seeking to quash the FIR before the bench led by Justice Shinde for an urgent hearing on Tuesday. On April 29, Shukla had filed a writ petition in the High Court in Hyderabad against the summons issued by the Mumbai police's cyber police in connection with the phone tapping case. In her petition filed before the court Shukla has stated that the investigation of the case is undertaken to harass her with a political vendetta. She further stated in her petition that there is apprehension of arresting her since the said issue is politically motivated against her. The matter is listed for hearing on May 6.

The cyber department had on April 26 issued summons to Shukla, currently posed in Hyderabad, asking her to appear before the BKC Cyber department on April 28 by 11 am in connection with an offence registered in the phone tapping matter.

Replying to the summons a day after via email, Shukla had expressed her inability to appear before the department due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She had also requested that a list of questionnaire be sent to her to avoid any delay in the investigation.

The police on April 29 again issued summons to Shukla asking her to record her statement in Mumbai on May 03.

An FIR was registered under the Official Secrets Act at the BKC cyber police station against unidentified persons for allegedly tapping phones illegally and leaking certain confidential documents on the complaint filed by the State Intelligence Department.

The FIR also invoked section 30 of the Indian Telegraph Act and section 43(B) of the Information Technology Act.

The alleged tapping of phones had taken place when Shukla headed the Maharashtra intelligence department.

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