The Gujarat High Court today asked the state government to file an affidavit on a plea by Hardik Patel questioning the legality of interception of his phone calls as well as of his associates, but rejected the defence’s request to share details of certain Home Department orders.
During arguments, Hardik’s lawyer B M Mangukiya asked the government to share all orders given by Home Department permitting city Crime Branch to intercept calls of many Patel quota agitation leaders between August and October.
Mangukiya alleged that phone tapping was done without any prior permission from authorities such as Additional Chief Secretary (Home). He termed the act as a ‘breach of privacy’ of citizens.
However, Public Prosecutor Mitesh Amin maintained due process was followed in getting permission. He said calls were intercepted after obtaining consent from authorities at regular intervals and objected to demand to share the orders.
After hearing the arguments, Justice J B Pardiwala ruled that government is not required to share these orders. He further asked the government to file a brief affidavit in this regard and posted further hearing for December 16.
In October, Hardik moved the high court challenging the interception of his and his associates’ phone calls by the police and sought an independent inquiry into it.
“The petitioner challenges the legality… of unlawfully tapping telephones not only of the petitioner but of several thousands persons of the Patidar community… which they (police) have admitted in the FIR against the petitioner,” said his plea.
The petition alleged that no prior permission was taken to intercept as well as tape the phone calls of quota leaders and others associated with the stir. Hardik’s father Bharat filed the petition on behalf of his son, who was then in police custody and later sent to jail in Surat.
Crime Branch had on October 21 registered an FIR against Hardik and his aides Chirag Patel, Ketan Patel, Dinesh Bambhaniya, Alpesh Kathiria and Amrish Patel on charges of sedition and waging war against the government.
In a recent judgement, the high court struck down the charges of ‘waging war against government’ from the FIR.
The FIR mentions details of call interceptions of the Patel leaders. It alleged these leaders, members of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) – spearheading the quota stir – conspired to topple the state government and incited youths to resort to violence after a mega Patel rally here on August 25.
The 22-year-old firebrand leader is facing another sedition charge in Surat for allegedly advising a fellow activist “to kill policemen rather than committing suicide”.
( Source – PTI )