Fresh 'snoopgate' slap: 'victim' says she herself requested surveillance

Even as the union government decided to end its ham-handed efforts to launch a mid-election probe against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate, over the 'snoopgate' case, it received a further kick in the tail from the lady involved herself along with her father, who both told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that they had no objection to the surveillance and were actually happy about it.

The woman, an architect, and her father approached the Supreme Court to immediately stall the union government's proposed judicial commission on the row and also to scrap the existing two-member commission constituted by the Gujarat government.

A bench of Justice Rajana Prakash Desai and Justice N V Ramana issued notice on the petition urging the top court to protect the family's fundamental "right to privacy", while adding that the surveillance was carried out at their instance.

The court has sought a response from the union law ministry and the Gujarat government and set 9 May to hear the matter. It also requested the media not to publish the name of the petitioners.

"Why did you come out with her name in the petition? We cannot gag the media but can only request them," the bench said in response to the petitioners' counsel, senior advocate Ranjit Kumar's plea to direct the media not to reveal his client's name.

The same court is also hearing suspended Gujarat cadre IAS officer Pradeep Sharma's petition alleging the state administration harassed him as he had knowledge about the surveillance over the woman, allegedly ordered by Narendra Modi amid allegations that the woman was his paramour.

"In this crossfire between vested interests, the petitioners as collateral damages are subjected to a violation of their fundamental rights on a daily basis," read the woman's petition.

Filed through counsel Bina Madhavan, the petitioners asserted the family had requested the surveillance. However, a "sinister and defamatory campaign has started in electronic and print media by certain vested interests groups (with whom none of the petitioners) are concerned ostensibly on the ground of protecting the petitioners' right to privacy," it stated.

This has resulted in tarnishing the family's reputation, forcing them to change their residence four times in the past one year. It was further submitted that the emails of the father and daughter have been hacked and scores of indecent calls were being received by the family from all over the country.

The surveillance, it added, never breached their rights. "On the contrary, the petitioners have remained thankful for the timely, appropriate and adequate safety measures taken by the State Government considering the circumstances prevailing then," the petition said.