The two-member commission includes retired Gujarat high court judge, Justice Sugunaben Bhatt, and retired bureaucrat KC Kapoor. “The commission has been asked to submit its report within three months,” said government spokesman and cabinet minister Nitin Patel. However, he did not clarify the terms of reference of the inquiry.
Justice Bhatt is also the chairperson of the socially and economically backward classes commission of Gujarat while Kapoor was state election commissioner before he retired in 2012. He has also served as additional chief secretary, home.
Congress slams panel
Since the revelations, the Congress has launched an all-out attack on Modi, questioning his silence on the controversy.
“The outcome of this commission is a forgone conclusion,” said Arjun Modhwadia, Gujarat Congress leader. “It’s an eyewash. Nothing has come out of previous commissions, like the MB Shah commission to inquire into corruption charges. Illegal surveillance is a criminal offence and an FIR should be filed in the case.”
The National Commission for Women has asked the government to inquire into the snooping allegations. The pressure on the Modi government increased after suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma filed a petition in the Supreme Court demanding an inquiry into the allegations. Sharma has accused the Gujarat government of victimizing him because of his acquaintance with the woman who was snooped upon.
Two investigative portals, Cobrapost and Gulail, had claimed on November 15 that Modi’s trusted lieutenant Shah, who was the junior home minister in 2009, had ordered the illegal surveillance on the woman at the behest of ‘saheb’. They had released tapes of purported conversations between Shah and IPS officer GL Singhal to back their claim. Singhal is accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case and is out on bail at present.