A judicial commission to probe ‘snoopgate’ allegedly involving Gujarat CM Narendra Modi will be in place before the Lok Sabha poll process comes to an end on 16th May, the govt asserted rejecting questions raised by the BJP over it.
The assertion by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Law Minister Kapil Sibal evoked sharp reaction from BJP which said it reflects arrogance of UPA which, it claimed, is being voted out of power soon.
The government had decided four months back to set up the inquiry commission but the process has got delayed reportedly because of its inability to zero in on a judge.
“The Cabinet had taken the decision to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to probe the incident of snooping on a woman in Gujarat. We will soon appoint the judge….before May 16,” Shinde told a press conference in Shimla on Friday.
Shinde was asked whether the appointment of a judge in the midst of Lok Sabha elections would not amount to violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
“It will not as the decision had been taken by the Union Cabinet much before the model code of conduct came into force,” he said.
The Union Cabinet had decided on 26th December 2013 to set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to probe charges of spying on a woman in 2009, triggering a political row.
“I am worried. The way the Chief Minister of Gujarat had snooped into the life of a woman, I am really worried what will happen to the women of the country if he becomes the Prime Minister,” Shinde said.
In New Delhi, Law Minister Kapil Sibal also said that a judge will be appointed by 16th May.
He rubbished the contention by BJP leader Arun Jaitley that he would be surprised if there is a judge who has “agreed to ‘lend’ himself to the UPA”.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said EC would be approached if the announcement is made during the polls.
Sibal said BJP is worried as its leaders know that “once the Commission is set up there is no saving for Narendra Modi because there is documentary evidence of what he (Modi) has done and how he has snooped the activities of a young girl.”
Asserting that “You will get a snoopgate judge before May 16″, he said, I don’t know why these people are so worried, why leaders of BJP are worried and why they are making public statement that no judge should join this Commission.”
He said, “They (BJP) are worried about the national Commission set up by the Centre and I think, they should continue to be worried because the Commission will be set up and he will be investigated and he will be brought to book.”
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government assertion was nothing but a reflection of arrogance of the UPA government, which, he claimed, would be voted out of power.
“The two honourable ministers….along with the entire Congress party would be defeated conclusively after 10 days and yet the arrogance of having the inquiry.
“I would expect that so many judges have refused in the past and the sanctity and dignity of the judiciary will not be compromised for ulterior motive of the Congress party,” he said.
The government had announced that the Commission, to be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or a retired Chief Justice of a high court, will also look into charges of snooping on Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh by the previous BJP government when he was in the opposition as well as the leaking of the call data records (CDR) of Jaitley in Delhi.
The Union Cabinet took the decision under the Commissions of Inquiry Act under which the Modi government had already set up a similar panel.