Third ex-judge refuses to probe snoopgate

Third ex-judge refuses to probe snoopgate

Another retired judge of the Supreme Court, third in a row, is learnt to have expressed his unwillingness to head a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to look into the “snoopgate” scandal allegedly involving Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, putting the Centre in an embarrassing situation.

Almost three weeks have gone by after the Union Cabinet decided to set up the CoI but the government is yet to get a retired judge who is willing to accept the assignment. Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on January 10 announced that the CoI will be set up “within a day or two”, while admitting that “some problems” had caused the delay.

Sources said Justice Deepak Verma is the latest to decline the assignment. Earlier, they said, the government had approached former chief justice of India Altamas Kabir and Justice Aftab Alam but both of them were not willing to accept the assignment. Shinde, however, has said it was not correct for the retired judges to be unwilling to head the CoI.

None of the former judges could be contacted for their comments. Sources said the Centre had now approached a fourth retired judge.

Gujarat has also set up a CoI to probe snoopgate. The BJP has claimed that the surveillance was part of plan to give discreet security to the woman, but is facing criticism as its Terms of Reference are restrictive in nature. The snoopgate scandal surfaced two months ago when two investigative portals, CobraPost and Gulail, made public purported conversations between Modi’s right-hand man Amit Shah and senior police officers on putting a young woman on surveillance.

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