Taking serious note of the Chhattisgarh government’s tapping the phones of a senior IPS officer and his family members, the Supreme Court Monday observed, “no privacy is left for anybody”. It asked the state government as to whether right to privacy of a person can be violated like this.
A bench of justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee asked the Chhattisgarh government to file a detailed affidavit explaining as to who ordered the tapping of phones and the reasons for it. “What is the need to do like this? No privacy is left for anybody. What is happening in this country,” the bench said, adding, “can privacy of somebody be violated like this? Who ordered this? File a detailed affidavit”.
The top court also took exception to a separate FIR lodged against an advocate who is representing the IPS officer before the apex court.
It stayed the investigation against the lawyer and said that no coercive steps be taken against him till further orders.
The bench also told senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, representing IPS officer Mukesh Gupta, not to politicise the issue by dragging the name of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel in the matter.
The top court directed that the Chief Minister’s name be struck off from the memo of parties in the petition. In the petition, the IPS officer has arrayed the name of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister as one of the respondents.
Gupta is accused of unlawful phone tapping and in violation the provisions of Indian Telegraph Act during the investigation of civil supplies scam unearthed in 2015. The court had on October 25 restrained the state government from interception of telephones of Gupta and his family and granted him protection from arrest in the cases lodged against him.
The top court had also told the state government that its earlier interim orders of stay on further investigation in two FIRs lodged against Gupta, will continue till further orders.
The top court had however refused to quash the FIRs against the 1988 batch IPS officer including one of FCRA violation by a trust running a eye hospital, founded by his father.
On February 9, this year, two IPS officers from Chhattisgarh, including Special DGP Mukesh Gupta, were suspended after the Economic Offences Wing of the police registered an FIR against them for alleged criminal conspiracy and illegal phone tapping during the Civil Supplies Corporation scam probe in 2015.
The officers, who was suspended is then Narayanpur Superintendent of Police Rajnesh Singh.
The case was lodged on the basis of the investigation carried by a Special Investigation Team (SIT), constituted by the Congress government, to probe the alleged multi-crore civil supply scam unearthed during the previous BJP government.
Gupta and Singh were booked under sections 193 (false evidence), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender), 466 (forgery), 471 (Using as genuine a forged), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and other relevant sections of IPC and under provisions of Indian Telegraph Act.
However, Gupta had denied all charges and said that all actions in the investigation of scam were taken in accordance with law and with due permissions from competent authority.
The alleged scam was exposed in February 2015 when the ACB and the EOW conducted simultaneous raids at 25 premises of the Civil Supplies Corporation.
The incumbent Bhupesh Baghel government had on January 8 this year set up a 12-member SIT under Inspector General of Police, ACB and EOW, SRP Kalluri to probe the alleged multi-crore scam citing that some points, including political involvement, were left uncovered in the previous probe in the case.