Trial by FIRe
India Today|April 12, 2021
Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has upped the ante in the phone-tapping row surrounding an alleged plot last year to pull down the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan.
Rohit Parihar

The 53-year-old BJP leader lodged a complaint in New Delhi on March 25, alleging that his phone was illegally tapped in July 2020 and the conversations leaked to the media. The Delhi police registered an FIR on the basis of the complaint.

Gehlot had cited the recorded conversations to allege that Shekhawat was the main conspirator in the failed attempt to topple his government in connivance with Sachin Pilot, then deputy chief minister of Rajasthan and state Congress chief.

In his complaint, Shekhawat alleged that the illegal phone tap was a violation of Section 26 of the Indian Telegraph Act. But the FIR adds charges under other provisions of the law—Section 72 of the Information Technology Act (breach of confidentiality and privacy), Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code or IPC (criminal breach of trust by a public servant entrusted with property) and Section 120B of IPC (criminal conspiracy). The main accused in the FIR is Lokesh Sharma, officer on special duty to assist the Rajasthan chief minister, who has admitted sending one clip from the tapes that he received on social media to media persons, and which Mahesh Joshi, chief whip of the Congress legislature party in Rajasthan, used to get the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the state police to lodge a case of sedition against Shekhawat and others. The sedition case was subsequently closed and the FIR transferred to Rajasthan’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

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