New Delhi: Kicking off a fresh political controversy, the UPA government on Thursday decided to set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to look into charges of snooping on a young woman in 2009 allegedly at the behest of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is also the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
Terming the decision as “political vendetta”, the BJP said that it infringes the “federal spirit” of the Constitution. The government, on its part, claimed that the Centre has the right to institute such a probe under Section 3 of the Commission of Enquiry Act, as the case involved more than one state.
Indicative of a balancing act, the commission, to be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, 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 of BJP leader Arun Jaitley in Delhi.
“The Cabinet has approved a proposal to set up a commission of inquiry un-der Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, to look into the incidents of physical/electronic surveillance in the states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh and the National Capital Territory of Delhi, allegedly without authorisation,” the government said in an official release.
BJP cries foul over probe panel
Sensing “political vindictiveness”, the BJP slammed the decision of the Centre to set up a commission to look into charges of snooping, saying it smacks of a witch-hunt targeting its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi while indicating it will be challenged in court for “violation” of provisions relating to federal structure of the Constitution.
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the decision is liable to be challenged in the SS. But Congress leader Digvijay Singh welcomed the decision, saying it should have happened much earlier.
The Central commission will be asked to submit its report within three months, official sources said, adding that the Gujarat government’s contention that the matter was a state subject and that it has already appointed a commission to probe it, do not hold merit, as the surveillance took place in more than one state.
Sources also confirmed that apart from home minister Sushilkumar Shinde,, finance minister P. Chidambaram and law minister Kapil Sibal favoured the decision.