Gujarat Police Monday refused to register an FIR against chief minister Narendra Modi, his aide Amit Shah and others in the snooping scandal on a complaint by suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma, who threatened to move the court.
Sharma, whose name has figured in the raging row, approached Gandhinagar Police with his complaint and sought an FIR to be registered but the police merely accepted his application.
"Police Inspector (in-charge) of Sector-7 police station accepted the application but refused to file an FIR. So, I am now going to SP office to register my complaint," Sharma told reporters and said he would move the court if his endeavour to get an FIR registered failed.
The suspended IAS officer said he was the aggrieved party and therefore, he had the locus standi to file the FIR.
"Sector-7 police station officials refused to take any action initially. They asked me to go to Commission or the court," he said.
"This is a cognisable offence and the Supreme Court has said that an FIR should be lodged in a cognisable offence. I have submitted evidence of audio clippings of the two websites (Gulail and Cobra post)," he said.
"My complaints are against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, former state home minister Amit Shah, then Inspector General (intelligence) AK Sharma and others," he said.
Sharma also said the Commissions of Inquiry constituted to probe the scandal have powers to make recommendations but it is the police which has to register an FIR, investigate and prosecute. "A Commission of Inquiry has got nothing to do with a criminal activity. If a criminal case takes place, an FIR has to be filed," he said, adding, "The Commission does not look into the criminality." When contacted, Gandhinagar SP Sharad Singhal said Sharma's application has been accepted, but refused to elaborate.
Two investigative news portals, Cobrapost.com and Gulail.com, had claimed on November 15 that former minister of state for home in Gujarat Amit Shah had ordered illegal surveillance of a woman at the behest of one "saheb", believed to be Modi.
They had released taped conversations between Shah and suspended IPS officer GL Singhal to support their claim, but said that its authenticity could not be confirmed.
When asked if he had been summoned by Justice Sugnya Bhatt Commission constituted by the Gujarat government to go into the snooping row or whether he would approach it on his own over the issue, Sharma said, "These are two different things.
"First, they would have to register a complaint of criminal offence and conduct investigation based on it," he said.
"The findings of the investigations carried out by the inquiry commission will be placed in the state assembly. That is not an act of criminal jurisprudence," he said, adding "They have to tell me clearly that this is an act of criminal offence and an FIR has been filed in this case." Sharma said it was for the state government to decide whether it wanted to get the matter investigated by Gujarat Police or CBI.
Sharma, whose phone conversations were also tapped by the state's security agencies, is facing six criminal cases in Gujarat.
The 1984-batch IAS officer claimed he was being victimised by the state's BJP government for his knowledge of the "intimacy" shared by Modi with the woman architect, the subject of surveillance.
The state government had set up an inquiry commission on November 26 after it came under attack over alleged surveillance of the woman by the opposition parties and civil society organisations.
The Commission, headed by retired Gujarat high court judge Sugnya K Bhatt and comprising ex-additional chief secretary KC Kapoor, has been asked to submit its report within three months. The Centre too had on December 26 decided to set up another inquiry commission as the incidents of physical and electronic surveillance had occurred beyond Gujarat in Himachal Pradesh and Delhi, allegedly without authorisation.
The BJP has alleged conspiracy in the release of audio tapes just ahead of the 2014 polls to tarnish the image of its prime ministerial candidate and pointed finger at CBI and Congress.
The tapes have purported conversations of Amit Shah giving orders to IPS officer GL Singhal to snoop on the woman architect under instructions from 'saheb'.
Pradeep Sharma has also filed a defamation suit against columnist-activist Madhu Kishwar in the scandal, alleging she dragged his name in the row and tried to sully his image through comments on micro-blogging site Twitter and on TV channels.
In her tweets and during debates, Kishwar had alleged that the suspended bureaucrat was harassing the woman architect due to which her father asked for police protection.