Justifying the act of the police in issuing a notice to former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in a phone-tapping case, Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil said on Sunday that the former CM had earlier been sent a questionnaire six times, to which he did not respond and therefore, the notice had to be served.
Walse Patil denied Fadnavis’s allegation that he was questioned like an accused in the case. The home minister said Fadnavis should stop making political capital out of the police notice.
“Notices were issued to Fadnavis five to six times, requesting him to record his statement. There is no need to raise a hue and cry. The notice doesn’t mean summons. The notice was not sent to him as an accused. It was sent to record the information he had in connection with the issue,” said Walse-Patil. He was responding to the BJP resorting to a protest against the police notice to Fadnavis.
Walse Patil made it clear that earlier too, Fadnavis was not called to the police station but only a questionnaire had been sent to him in connection with the case. “On March 2 also, a questionnaire was sent to him. But, for some reason, no information was received from him. Hence, the police decided to record his statement by going to his home. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it,’’ he said.
According to the minister, the case is almost a year old and the probe into the matter could not be completed for want of Fadnavis’s statement. Hence, a request was made to him to record his statement, he said. “The case was registered against five unidentified persons and the statements of 24 people have been recorded till now,” he added.
Walse Patil’s statement is important as the police have filed two FIRs against Additional Director General of Police Rashmi Shukla in connection with the illegal phone tapping during her tenure as the state intelligence bureau chief. Shukla is accused of tapping the phones of political leaders and senior officials illegally.
Fadnavis had cited a letter purportedly written by her to the then Maharashtra Director General of Police about the alleged corruption in transfers in the police department. The letter also had details of intercepted phone calls, causing an uproar, with leaders of the Shiv Sena-led ruling coalition alleging that Shukla had tapped phones without permission.
After the complaint was filed by the state intelligence department, a case was registered under the Official Secrets Act at the BKC cyber police station last year against unidentified persons for allegedly illegally tapping phones and leaking confidential documents. Before the FIR was registered, the former chief secretary, Sitaram Kunte, had alleged in his inquiry report that Shukla had leaked the confidential report and conducted phone tapping in excess of the permission granted by the government.