Mumbai: 10 days on, no orders for tapping probe

Updated: Feb 14, 2020, 07:32 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

The orders have not been signed due to differences between political leadership and police brass over the officer appointed by home minister

Anil Deshmukh, home minister
Anil Deshmukh, home minister

Ten days after a probe into the alleged phone tapping of Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP leaders when the 2019 Assembly polls was announced, the enquiry panel has not yet been issued orders to begin investigations. A difference of opinion amid the political leadership and administration-police department over the investigators has reportedly led to the delay.

Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had himself chosen the investigators for the job.

Deshmukh had made an announcement in this regard on February 3 naming Shrikant Singh, additional chief secretary of home department and Amitesh Kumar, joint commissioner of State Intelligence Department as the probe team. A report was supposed to be submitted to him within six weeks. But mid-day has learnt that the file containing Deshmukh's instructions has not moved yet.

Amitesh Kumar, joint commissioner of State Intelligence Department will be part of the probe team
Amitesh Kumar, joint commissioner of State Intelligence Department will be part of the probe team

One of the investigators told mid-day that no letter of appointment and terms of reference were given to him till Thursday evening. Deshmukh wasn't available for comment despite repeated calls and text messages.

Sources said some senior police officers have objected to Kumar's appointment over his relatively limited experience. Kumar, an IPS officer of the 1995 batch, is due for promotion to the rank of additional director general of police. Some IPS officers want a DG rank officer to replace Kumar, said a Mantralaya official.

A senior bureaucrat said, "How can the home minister's announcement or choice be challenged by the administration and police department? Once the names were declared and deadline for submitting probe report given, the investigations should have started with a formal intimation to the probing team. People are seeing the delay in different perspectives. Some say it is a deliberate effort to delay the probe while others say some officers don't want to be probed. Who are the officials who don't want an inquiry?"

Representation pic
Representation pic

The Cabinet has repeatedly discussed the issue and wants the probe report to be tabled before it for discussion and further action.

The probe
According to Deshmukh's media statement, he wanted the panel to identify officers and politicians who were allegedly involved in snooping. He also said that the probe would also name senior officers who allegedly went to Israel to procure a tapping software. He said several Sena, NCP and Congress leaders have complained to him about the tapping and wanted him to probe it thoroughly.

A brief note on the terms of reference of the probe, which the minister released in the media, said: "The inquiry should cover not only the legal documentation but also take the support of technical experts to decipher if unofficial surveillance has been carried out by tracing the footprint in the servers of various telecom companies through physical verification and visits."

6
No. of weeks within which the team was supposed to submit the probe report

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