Sitaram Kunte trying to put blame on me: Ex-intel chief to Bombay HC | Mumbai News – Times of India

MUMBAI: Rashmi Shukla, ex-commissioner, state intelligence department, contended before the Bombay high court on Friday that former additional home secretary of Maharashtra and currently state chief secretary Sitaram Kunte is trying to absolve himself and put the blame on her for her phone-tap report into alleged corruption in the state over police transfers and postings.
Senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for Shukla in his submissions on Friday, said she is even willing to take a lie detector test to prove she never told anyone, including the chief minister, then home minister Anil Deshmukh or Kunte that she had made a ‘mistake’ and had offered to withdraw her report, as mentioned by the ACS in a report dated March 25, 2021, a day before the FIR was filed. She is being made a scapegoat, he argued.
The interceptions were authorized by Kunte himself when he was the ACS (home), and he is expected to have applied his mind, said Jethmalani. Kunte is now the chief secretary of the state.
Before a bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar, Jethmalani said Kunte sanctioned the tap, so why is the state “witch-hunting” Shukla now? On March 26, 2021, the cyber police registered a First Information Report (FIR) against unknown persons for the alleged ‘leak’ of Shukla’s confidential phone-tap report and the letter of August 25, 2020 submitted by her to the then director general of police Subodh Jaiswal.
Shukla petitioned the HC to have the FIR quashed.
Jethmalani said Shukla had done her duty faithfully as directed. He contended “mala fide” by the state. He argued that the advocate general had also submitted earlier that nothing was found in the report, and if it is “innocuous,” then why was there an file an FIR about its ‘leak’? Jethmalani submitted the assumption is that Shukla is the “focus” of the probe, and the purpose of the probe is nothing “except to keep it hanging over her and not give to CBI the documents which state is otherwise bound in law to give.”
Jethmalani read from Kunte’s report annexed to her petition. Kunte said Shukla misused the law, which cannot be used for “case of difference of political opinion, business disputes or domestic disputes etc” and Shukla personally met him, the then home minister and the chief minister and “expressed her regret…and admitted her mistake and sought to withdraw the report.” She also mentioned a family tragedy—the death of her husband. Jethmalani said her husband had died in 2018, why would she raise it now, and also Kunte invoked her gender, saying “she is a woman officer and admitted her mistake, no further step is taken” barring her transfer. “It is disgraceful,” said Jethmalani.
Kunte said Shukla in July 2020 said “some persons can cause danger to public order and took permission” to tap phones of unknown persons. “Danger to public order means acts like terrorism, riots etc” but she tapped via “intentional misguiding,” a term which Jethmalani questioned, saying the state was “stooping so low.”


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