HC for no coercive steps against Gehlot's OSD in phone tapping case till Aug 6

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New Delhi, Jun 3 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Thursday asked the Delhi Police not to take any coercive steps against Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's officer on special duty (OSD) till August 6 in an alleged phone tapping case.

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait issued notices and sought response of Delhi government, State of Rajasthan and complainant Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on a plea by Gehlot’s OSD Lokesh Sharma seeking quashing of an FIR lodged against him by the Delhi Police.

The court said no coercive action be taken against Sharma till the next date of hearing on August 6.

The Delhi government was represented through advocate Rajesh Mahajan.

The Delhi Police had in March this year registered an FIR in connection with the alleged phone tapping case in Rajasthan based on a complaint filed by Shekhawat, who is the Union Jal Shakti minister, against Sharma and others for commission of alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and unlawfully intercepting telegraphic signals (telephonic conversation).

Sharma, in his petition, said that the FIR pertained to the broadcast of certain audio conversations between BJP Cabinet Minister Shekhawat and other persons about 'using corrupt and illegal means to topple' the Congress government in Rajasthan last year.

He claimed that the FIR arises out of a purely motivated complaint and is entirely mala fide and an abuse of process and it is being used as a tool of political vendetta to pressurise him to settle a political score.

'The impugned FIR is a counter blast to FIRs that were lodged in July 2020 in Rajasthan, wherein cases against the Respondent No. 2 (Shekhawat) and others are being investigated on allegations of using corrupt means to try and topple a democratically elected government,' the plea alleged.

The plea said it was reported in the media in July last year that a complaint was also filed before a Jaipur court against Sharma and others on the issue of the leaked audio clips and the same was pending inquiry under the provisions of CrPC and urged that either the Delhi FIR be quashed or be handed over to the state of Rajasthan as a 'Zero’ FIR where the entire cause of action arises.

He has also sought a stay on the investigation of FIR lodged by the Delhi Police.

The phone tapping controversy had erupted in July last year in Rajasthan during a political crisis due to the rebellion of former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs against Gehlot’s leadership following which audio clips purportedly having telephonic conversation between Shekhawat and Congress leaders had surfaced.

Congress leaders of Gehlot's camp had then alleged that the BJP leaders were involved in horse trading to topple the state government.

Shekhawat is a BJP MP from Rajasthan''s Jodhpur.

According to the FIR, Shekhawat has alleged in his complaint that on July 17, 2020, various prominent media houses and news channels had aired some telephonic conversations, allegedly between him, a man named Sanjay Jain and Bhanwar Lal Sharma, a member of Rajasthan Legislative Assembly.

In the complaint, Shekhawat alleged that the telephonic conversations were allegedly leaked to the media houses and news channels by Lokesh Sharma, OSD to the Rajasthan chief minister. PTI SKV SKV RKS RKS

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