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Petition seeking SIT probe says Alok Verma involved in NSA Doval’s phone tapping, Delhi HC seeks centre’s response

The petitioner has alleged that the illegal act of abuse of power was committed by some public servants working in the agency "for their ulterior motive".

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought the response of the centre on a petition seeking setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the alleged illegal phone tapping of National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

According to reports, a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao issued a notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the CBI, seeking their responses on the plea filed by advocate Sarthak Chaturvedi. The petitioner has alleged that the illegal act of abuse of power was committed by some public servants working in the agency “for their ulterior motive”.

The petition filed in Delhi HC claimed that phones of several other people were also tapped when the CBI was witnessing a feud between its then Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana. It has claimed that a special unit of the CBI, which handles phone tapping and technical surveillance, was aware of communications between the Ajit Doval and Rakesh Asthana during his feud with Alok Verma.

The plea filed by Chaturvedi has said, “public servants working in the said organization need to conduct themselves in a manner so that the integrity of the institution is maintained”.  The petitioner said the issue of tapping of phones was revealed in an application filed in the Supreme Court by CBI DIG Manish Sinha, who was investigating a complaint against Rakesh Asthana. He also sought framing of comprehensive guidelines on tracing, tapping and surveillance of phone calls along with preparation of stocks and accountability of officials.

“Respondents (MHA and CBI) need to respond to the serious allegations raised by way of public interest litigation,” the bench said on the petition which sought a direction to constitute a SIT to look into the alleged abuse of power by some CBI officers.

Sarthak Chaturvedi’s petition added that the application submitted by Sinha, which disclosed several crucial facts of an ongoing investigation and “commission of the cognisable offence of abuse of powers by public servants”, was published on a news website. The petition has claimed that even the phones of special secretary, RAW and the law secretary were put under surveillance.

“Who gave permission to tap the phone of the National Security Advisor? How can these facts come to light in the public domain? This is very dangerous for the country,” senior advocate Kirti Uppal, appearing for Chaturvedi, contested in court.

Alok Verma, the CBI Director was ousted from his post by a High Powered Panel comprising of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Justice Sikri (nominee of Chief Justice Gogoi) and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge after they found that there were serious charges and allegations of corruption against him. The panel had transferred Alok Verma as Director General of Fire Services, but he refused to take charge and resigned from the service.

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