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'She Didn't, But Even If She Leaked Phone Tap Report It was in Public Interest' : Rashmi Shukla's Counsel to Bombay High Court

Sharmeen Hakim
21 Aug 2021 5:12 PM GMT
She Didnt, But Even If She Leaked Phone Tap Report It was in Public Interest : Rashmi Shuklas Counsel to Bombay High Court
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Maharashtra's Counsel asserted that an adverse inference couldn't be drawn against the State for not filing a written response, considering notice was yet to be issued.

The Bombay High Court deferred the hearing by two weeks in Senior IPS Officer Rashmi Shukla's petition after the Maharashtra Government pointed out that an adverse inference couldn't be drawn against the State for not filing a written response, considering notice was yet to be issued. On being asked why this wasn't brought to the court's attention earlier, Senior Advocate Darius...

The Bombay High Court deferred the hearing by two weeks in Senior IPS Officer Rashmi Shukla's petition after the Maharashtra Government pointed out that an adverse inference couldn't be drawn against the State for not filing a written response, considering notice was yet to be issued.

On being asked why this wasn't brought to the court's attention earlier, Senior Advocate Darius Khambata said it was for the petitioners to point out.

The court was hearing Shukla's quashing petition against a March 26, 2021 FIR filed by the Mumbai Police against unnamed persons for an alleged leak of her confidential phone interceptions report. The FIR invoked the Indian Telegraph Act, Information Technology Act and Official Secrets Act, 1923.

The FIR in the case was filed after opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis released details of Shukla's confidential report on national television in March.

This Saturday was the 10th time the matter was listed for hearing. Senior Advocate Jethmalani for Shukla concluded his final arguments, repeatedly pointing out that the state "failed" to file their reply.

"However, on noticing that the state hasn't yet filed a reply, we deem it appropriate to delay the hearing of the writ petition by 2 weeks." the bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar noted in their order.

The matter was adjourned, but not without exchange of words between Jethmalani and Khambata.

Closing his arguments on Saturday, Jethmalani said Rashmi Shukla had not leaked the report or committed any offence alleged in the FIR. He went a step further to say that even she had leaked the report, she had acted in the "greatest public interest, in conformity with the preamble and provisions of the RTI Act and the supreme underlying principle of truth, justice and public interest."

"But the State has sought to hound an individual who has done her duty in pursuit of achieving those noble ideals," he said.

Khambata, on the other hand, began his arguments by questioning the basis of Jethmalani's arguments on truth and justice. Ninety per cent of the arguments are about issues not connected to the FIR, and Shukla is "seeking to abuse process" of the court and "subvert the very truth, justice and public interest" that she claims to be championing, Khambata contended.

"Let me assure my learned friend Mr Jethmalani that he and his clients are not the only ones who are concerned with truth, justice and transparency. She is not even an accused," he said.

Khambata claimed the FIR was not registered to investigate why Shukla tapped phones, but about the leaking of the report, which was an equally "serious matter," about how the sanctity and confidentiality of information in police systems can so brazenly be leaked. "Today, it is this report, and tomorrow it will be something else," he said.

"When someone knows he doesn't have a case, he takes your lordship on a Bharat yatra on things no one can have any cavil. So can anyone say we are flippant about truth and justice or corruption within the police force? No.

Mr Jethmalani reaches out to all these mantras and tries to suggest that his client's case is based on the bedrock of these mantras. Well, it's far from it."

Khambata pointed out that his reason for not filing a reply was, notice not being issued. The court then directed the State to file its reply by September 4 and adjourned the matter to September 13.

Case Title : [Rashmi Shukla vs State of Maharashtra]

Click Here To Read/ Download Order



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