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Privacy trumps (alleged) abuse of state power: The Gujarat HC’s extraordinarily efficient judgment quashing the #Snoopgate inquiry

via @aparatbar on Twitter: Disposal within three days of filing
via @aparatbar on Twitter: Disposal within three days of filing

The Gujarat high court on Friday quashed a public commission formed to probe allegations of snooping on a woman, while ruling that the commission was not in the public interest, reported the Indian Express and others.

Setting aside the Gujarat government notification that had appointed the two-member Commission led by Justice Sugnya Bhatt to probe the snooping on a Bangalore-based female architect, allegedly at the behest of the then-Gujarat chief minister and now Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.

The court granted the plea of the alleged victim’s father, reported the Economic Times, who had approached the court praying to quash the commission since his daughter and his family were not “aggrieved” by the alleged surveillance.

In the ruling, Justice Paresh Upadhyay wrote:

“[…] in the commotion created by the shouts from various quarters, including the so-called custodians of the [alleged victim], the feeble voice of the [alleged victim] herself went into the background and it is the duty of this Court to listen to that very voice of the concerned citizen, how so feeble it may be, and on doing so, what is heard by this Court, in no uncertain terms is that, at least the concerned citizen states that, she does not want any inquiry in that regard and further that, what is alleged against the State Authorities had not resulted in intrusion in her privacy, but now what is sought to be done, certainly has resulted into intrusion in her privacy and has thereby resulted in violation of her fundamental right. It is this situation, against which the petitioners need to be protected by this Court.”

Advocate Apar Gupta (@aparatbar), sharing the judgment, tweeted today:

Dates in #Snoopgate

1. Constitution of Inquiry 26/11/2013

2. SC disposes 09/05/2014

3. Case filed in HC 07/10/2014.

Judgement 10/10/2014

Govt. notification [to set up a commission of inquiry under section 3 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act] annulled in 3 days from filing of a case. Is something rotten in the state of Gujarat ? #Snoopgate [picture on the left]

I am an inexperienced junior lawyer, but even I know such substantive determinations cannot take place without consent by the State Govt.

Hat-tip @aparatbar for pointing us to the judgement

Gujarat high court Snoopgate judgment

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