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Phone tapping case: Delhi police to interrogate Gehlot's OSD on Saturday

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Senjo M R
May 12, 2022 18:43 IST
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The Delhi police Crime Branch has served a fresh notice to Lokesh Sharma, officer on special duty to Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, asking him to appear for questioning in connection with a phone tapping case on Saturday.

IMAGE: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Lokesh Sharma (right). Photograph: Courtesy Lokesh Sharma/Twitter

Sharma will have to report before the investigating officer at 11 am.

During the last hearing on May 9, the Crime Branch had informed the court that Sharma had not been co-operating in the investigation because he enjoyed interim protection against the arrest.

 

The court had earlier put a stay on coercive action by the police against the officer and it is valid till the next hearing on July 24.

However, after the police's accusation on May 9, the court cautioned Sharma that the Delhi Police will have the liberty to file an application seeking revocation of the interim order if he not join the probe and cooperate with the investigating officer.

The phone tapping controversy erupted in Rajasthan in July 2020.

Audio clips of the alleged telephonic conversations, apparently between Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Congress leaders surfaced amidst a rebellion against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot by his then deputy Sachin Pilot and 18 party MLAs supporting him.

It was alleged that Sharma circulated audio clips of the purported conversations about the conspiracy to topple the Congress government.

On the basis of the audio clips, chief whip Mahesh Joshi had registered cases with the Rajasthan police's Special Operations Groups and Anti-Corruption Bureau in July 2020, but the FIR did not mention that 'Gajendra Singh' referred to in the clip was Union minister Shekhawat.

The SOG later closed the case after the Congress high command intervened to resolve the issues between Gehlot and Pilot.

Meanwhile, based on a complaint by Shekhawat, who is also the BJP MP from Jodhpur, the Delhi Police had registered an FIR against Sharma on March 25 last year on charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and unlawfully intercepting telegraphic signals (telephonic conversation).

This is the fifth notice served to Sharma by the Crime Branch, which has said failure to attend or comply with its terms can render the officer liable for arrest under the Criminal Procedure Code.

The first notice to appear for questioning was issued to the OSD on July 24, second to appear on October 22 and third for appearing on November 12, but Sharma did not appear citing personal reasons.

He appeared before the Crime Branch on the fourth date on December 6, during which the investigating officer interrogated him for three-and-a-half hours.

Sharma has rejected the allegations of phone tapping. 

The OSD, who was in Udaipur where the Congress party is holding Chintan Shivir -- an exercise to revamp the party after a series of poll reverses -- from May 13 to 15, has left for Jaipur to join the investigation in Delhi.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Senjo M R© Copyright 2022 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
 
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