JAIPUR: The Delhi police has summoned Rajasthan chief minister's officer on special duty for questioning him on Monday, suspecting him to be involved in a case of illegal phone tapping, lodged by Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in the national capital.
The notice summoning Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's OSD Lokesh Sharma has been issued by the Crime Branch of Delhi Police for the fourth time, this time too warning him that he would be liable to be arrested in case he fails to appear before the police for questioning.
Like the previous third notice, the Crime Branch has sent the fourth notice under section 41.1 (A) of CrPC reiterating that failure to attend/comply with the terms of the notice can render him liable for arrest under section 41 A (3) and (4) of the CrPC.
The first two notices were sent under section 160 of the CrPC which empowers a police officer to enforce the attendance of witnesses in any case.
After receiving the third notice last month, Sharma, apprehending arrest, had approached the Delhi High Court requesting an early hearing of his petition for quashing of the FIR against him.
On Sharma's plea, the high court has stayed any coercive action against him till January 13.
During a hearing of Sharma's plea on November 12, the high court was also assured by the Delhi police that no coercive steps shall be taken against the CM's OSD till further orders.
Sharma, however, did not appear before the police on either of the last three dates citing personal reasons.
In the notice, the investigating officer has said that there exists reasonable suspicion that Sharma has committed a cognizable offence and directed him to appear before him (IO) on December 6 at the Crime Branch in Delhi.
In the notice, the Crime Branch IO has also stipulated 10 conditions, warning the CM's OSD, among others, against committing any offence in future, tampering with the evidence or influencing any witness of the case by threat, inducement or promise.
The Crime Branch's first notice had asked Sharma to appear before it on July 24, second on October 22 and third on November 12 for questioning, but he did not appear before the police even once, citing personal reasons.
The first two notices issued under section 160 of the CrPC had imposed no condition on the CM's OSD but the third and fourth notices, issued under section 41.1 (A) of the CrPC, have warned Sharma that the failure to comply with the terms of the notice can render him liable for arrest.
The Delhi police had registered the FIR in March this year against Sharma on charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and unlawfully intercepting telegraphic signals (telephonic conversation) on the complaint by Shekhawat, who is also the BJP MP from Jodhpur.
The Delhi High Court has already stayed coercive action against Sharma till January 13.
The phone-tapping controversy had erupted in July last year in Rajasthan after audio clips of purported telephonic conversations between Shekhawat and Congress leaders had surfaced amid a rebellion against Chief Minister Gehlot by his then deputy Sachin Pilot and 18 party MLAs supporting him.
It was alleged that Lokesh Sharma had circulated the audio clips purportedly having a conversation about the conspiracy to topple the Congress government.
On the basis of the audio clips, chief whip Mahesh Joshi had lodged complaints with the Special Operations Group (SOG) and Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of the Rajasthan Police in July last year but the FIRs did not mention that Gajendra Singh referred to in the clip was Union minister Shekhawat.
The SOG later closed the case after the Congress high command intervened to resolve the issues between Gehlot and Pilot.
Sharma has rejected allegations of phone tapping.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)