MUMBAI: The Mumbai police told the Bombay High Court on Thursday that they would not take any coercive action or arrest IPS officer Rashmi Shukla till the next date of hearing of her plea challenging an FIR registered by the police in a case of alleged illegal phone tapping.
Last month, the police issued two summons (on April 26 and April 28) to Shukla, asking her to appear before the BKC cyber department in Mumbai for recording her statement.
However, Shukla had skipped the summons.
The case also pertains to alleged leaking of sensitive documents related to police postings.
Senior counsel Darius Khambata, appearing for the police, told a division bench of Justices S S Shinde and Manish Pitale on Thursday that a team of the cyber cell police would be sent to Hyderabad, where Shukla is presently posted, to record her statement in the case.
The bench, which was hearing Shuklas petition, noted that the case pertains to offences under the Official Secrets Act, the Information Technology Act and the Indian Telegraph Act, which are punishable up to three years only.
The petitioner is serving in Hyderabad.
She may have not been able to appear before the police here for questioning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the HC said.
"We will hear this petition after the summer vacation. Until then it will be graceful on the state governments part to make a statement that it would not take any coercive action," Justice Shinde said.
To this, Khambata said the police would not take any coercive action or arrest the petitioner till the next date of hearing of the petition.
"It is a fairly important investigation. We don't know when the COVID-19 pandemic will end. Hence, the police are willing to send a team to Hyderabad where they could record the petitioners statement," Khambata said.
Shuklas counsel Mahesh Jethmalani said the IPS officer is willing to cooperate with the investigation into the case and the police team can record her statement in Hyderabad.
The court accepted the statement and posted the plea for hearing in June.
Shukla, a senior IPS officer of 1988 cadre, approached thr HC earlier this week, seeking for the case to be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and also sought an interim order of no coercive action.
"The approach of the State is to arm-twist the petitioner by a bogus and frivolous case," the plea alleged.
Shukla is currently serving as additional director general of the Central Reserve Police Force's (CRPF) South Zone and is posted in Hyderabad.
The petition said Shukla had exposed the alleged nexus between ministers and politicians and other gross corruption involved in assigning postings to police officers.
Instead of applauding and appreciating the work of the petitioner, the "government authorities are involved in framing the petitioner in a false criminal case", it alleged.
The FIR was registered at the BKC cyber police station in Mumbai against unidentified persons for allegedly tapping phones illegally and leaking certain confidential documents on the complaint filed by the Maharashtra Intelligence Department.
The alleged tapping of phones had taken place when Shukla headed the state intelligence department.
BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis had cited a letter purportedly written by Shukla to the then Director General of Police about alleged corruption in police transfers.
The letter also had details of intercepted calls, leading to an uproar with leaders of the Shiv Sena-led ruling coalition alleging that Shukla tapped phones without permission.
Before registration of the FIR, Maharashtra Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte had alleged in a report submitted to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray that it appears that Shukla herself had leaked the confidential report (to Fadnavis).