Phone-tapping: Fadnavis says fact-finding report full of fallacies

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(Eds: adding reactions from NCP leaders) Mumbai, Mar 26 (PTI) BJP leader Devendra Fandavis on Friday alleged that the fact-finding report submitted to the Maharashtra government by state chief secretary Sitaram Kunte over the phone-tapping allegations is full of fallacies.

Kunte had been asked to submit the report into the alleged police transfer racket by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in the wake of Fadnavis's allegations that the state government suppressed IPS officer Rashmi Shukla's letter to the then DGP, based on phone intercepts, on a 'transfer scam'.

Kunte's report said, 'Despite stamping the letter as TOP SECRET, Rashmi Shukla seems to have leaked the letter, which is very serious matter. If it is proved, she will be liable for strictest action against her.' Talking about it, Fadnavis said on Friday, 'The Indian Telegraph Act quoted in the report is presented to public in a manner convenient to the government. The report in itself is full of fallacies. Although there are sufficient provisions to tap the phone calls, the government is not ready to accept it.' 'The then DGP Subodh Jaiswal had recommended a CID probe (into the alleged transfer scam) based on the conversations among police officials and other persons involved in it. Then why no action was taken on his recommendations?' he asked.

The Act empowers the official to intercept calls to avoid any possible offence that could happen, he said, adding that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of the Maharashtra police has all the rights to carry out phone-tapping.

When asked about the leaking of 'top secret' report, the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly said, 'I had only shared a two-page letter (related to Shukla's letter), whereas it was state minister Nawab Malik who leaked some of its pages. I was even contacted by some journalists after they received the report from Malik.' If any action has to be taken, it should be against Malik, he added.

'I think state ministers Malik or Jitendra Awhad had prepared the report and chief secretary Kunte must have signed it. I have enough proof with me. If there is a legal action, then I will produce it before the court,' he claimed.

Out of all the names mentioned by Malik citing the list, 12 officials have received the postings as per their request, he claimed.

Awhad had on Wednesday alleged that Shukla, then Commissioner of Intelligence, sought permission for intercepting the calls of certain persons, but actually the calls of some other persons were tapped.

In his reaction, Nawab Malik said Fadnavis seemed to be afraid that a 'person close to him' would be in trouble as an offence has been registered in the case.

Amid the controversy over Shukla's report, an FIR was registered on Friday against an 'unidentified person' for leaking confidential documents from the SID.

'A person close to him (Fadnavis) had tweeted about the report first...who gave the documents to the person close to Fadnavis? 'I can see Devendra-ji is somewhat afraid after the offence has been registered. Legal action will be taken,' the NCP minister said.

He also took exception to Fadnavis's comments against the chief secretary 'who is an honest officer'.

Another NCP leader and minister Jitendra Awhad termed Fadnavis' comments as 'ridiculous'.

By making such a comment, Fadnavis 'insulted' Kunte, he said, accusing the BJP of working in a way that demoralises officers. PTI ND ENM NP KRK KRK