In a fresh twist to the 'snoopgate' episode, the woman who was tailed by Gujarat police allegedly on the orders of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court along with her father for restraining the Centre and state government from going ahead with their Commissions of inquiry.
The joint-petition, filed by them, was mentioned before a bench comprising Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and N V Ramana, which said it cannot pass an interim order for staying proceedings without hearing the parties.
The bench issued notices to the Centre and the Gujarat government seeking their replies for hearing on Friday. The petition has also sought protection of their fundamental right to privacy and right to live with dignity.
The apex court also requested the media not to make public the name of the woman.
A controversy broke out last year when two news portals released CDs of purported telephonic conversations between Narendra Modi aide Amit Shah, who was then state home minister, and two top state police officials relating to snooping on a woman architect in 2009.
The conversations, purportedly between August and September 2009, do not specifically mention Modi by name but refers to a 'saheb', which the portals claimed was the Gujarat chief minister at whose instance the snooping was done, a charge denied by Shah.
While the Gujarat government constituted an inquiry commission in November last year, the Union Cabinet also decided to follow suit. However, a major controversy broke out when last week, senior ministers announced that the name of the judge to head the commission would be announced.
On Monday, the central government beat a retreat after two allies of the Congress objected to such a move in the "dying days" of UPA II.
In the petition the woman and her father have also sought a direction for restraining media from publishing and airing news about the controversy that arose after the news portals -- Cobra Post and Gulail.com -- released CDs of telephonic conversation on snooping.
Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the two, submitted that despite no complaint filed by them their rights are invaded by various persons for extraneous reasons.
“I was satisfied with the safety measures taken by the Gujarat Government when my lives were under threat and when I am not complaining what happened in 2009 there is a sinister campaign to target my reputation and of my family,” Kumar submitted on behalf of them.
In the petition, they also took objection to the raking up of the snooping controversy by suspended Gujarat cadre IAS officer Pradeep Sharma seeking a CBI probe based on the unverified and unauthenticated contents brought by the web portals.
They also expressed surprise that both the state government and the Centre went ahead with decision to set up Commissions of Inquiry even after knowing that the woman, who is now happily married, had approached the National Commission for Women and Gujarat State Commission for Women.
In view of the development before the two women's commissions, they sought direction to the Centre not to proceed with the constitution of the Commission of Enquiry or a body of like nature to go into the questions arising from the snooping controversy which was brought into public domain by the web portals.
The petitioners also pleaded that the state government be asked not to proceed with the proceedings of the commission constituted by it on November 26, 2013.
“The constitution of commission by the state government is wholly unwarranted and unjustified. The attempt being made by the central government to constitute a similar commission which would necessarily infringe upon and encroach upon right to privacy of the petitioners and their family which would clearly be unwarranted and unjustified and would be violative of the fundamental rights of the petitioners and their family members as guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution,” the petition said.
It said "on the basis of the said unauthorised and unverified contents posted in the aforesaid two web post, the authenticity of which is not guaranteed even by the said two posts, a sinister and defamatory campaign has started in electronic and print media by certain vested interest groups (with whom none of the petitioners are concerned) ostensibly on the ground of protecting the petitioners' right to privacy.
“Such sinister campaign by vested groups under the guise protecting the privacy of petitioners has resulted into tarnishing the reputation and infringing upon the petitioners and their family members right to privacy, causing them immense anguish and suffering.”
They submitted the malicious campaign has led them to change their residential accommodation four times in few months and their e-mail accounts are hacked and indecent calls are being made to them.
Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with former state home minister Amit Shah