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Govt Employee Alleging Illegal Surveillance & Hounding By Chhattisgarh Govt. Granted Interim Protection By SC

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Khushi Bajpai

Published on: October 3, 2022 at 20:17 IST

In response to a plea from a government employee asking the State of Chhattisgarh to stop ongoing searches and monitoring of his home in violation of his Right to Privacy, the Supreme Court gave notice on Friday.

The petitioner, who was purportedly being pursued by the State of Chhattisgarh, was given protection from any coercive measures until the next date of hearing by a bench made up of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli.

“No coercive measures shall be taken against the petitioners in connection with the FIR bearing No. 133/2022 (Annexure P-4) recorded at PS Civil Lines, Raipur, until the next date of listing.”

Justice Chandrachud had stated at the outset that the petitioner is essentially asking for the FIR to be quashed. He advised the petitioner to approach the Chhattisgarh High Court in light of the situation.

“You can now seek redress at the High Court. You should appear before the Chhattisgarh High Court if you want the FIR quashed.”

In his appearance on behalf of the petitioner, senior attorney Mr. Mukul Rohatgi stated that his client had already filed 18 petitions with the High Court, and that most of them had been granted protection.

It was emphasized that the petitioner was only the target of harassment by the Chhattisgarh political establishment because of the claim that he is an opposition sympathizer.

“The High Court has defended me in the majority of the 18 petitions I have filed with it. I am the subject of a diary from the CM’s office. I am a menial government employee. Members of the governing party have publicly said that I support the opposition, notwithstanding their claims.”

If a current writ petition, which is effectively a quashing petition under Section 482 CrPC, is permitted to proceed, Justice Chandrachud is worried that it could lead to a torrent of similar writ petitions being filed before the Supreme Court rather than through the High Courts.

“We are aware of the claim, but if we start considering it as a 482 here, there is no stopping it.”

Mr. Rohatgi informed the Bench that the petitioner’s home is under surveillance, that his bank accounts have been blocked for the past two years, and that searches are being conducted at his home without a warrant in order to show the State’s malicious purpose in tormenting the petitioner.

“My home was searched, there was surveillance, and two years’ worth of bank accounts were blocked. Without a warrant, they are searching.”

He further stated that neither the FIR nor the chargesheet named the petitioner.

The State Police thereafter claimed to have evidence suggesting that the petitioner was responsible for the crime described in the impugned FIR.

“In neither the FIR nor the charge sheet am I mentioned by name. They now claim that we were informed, two to three months ago, that you were operating the aforementioned online portal.”

The petitioner was hired as a government employee in 2001. He is currently employed at the Department of Panchayat and Rural Development as a Joint Commissioner.

According to the petition, the highest-ranking members of the State Government unanimously agreed to dismiss the petitioner from his position in 2018 when the Congress Government assumed power on the grounds that he had “saffronized” the state.

There is a note-sheet that was signed by the state’s chief minister and requests that the petitioner be relieved of his duties, according to the petition.

All of the requests for orders for his removal have been contested in front of the High Court. The petition asserts that, as retaliation, the State launched pointless investigations and filed numerous FIRs against him in accordance with the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Numerous petitions to the High Court contested the Government’s harassment of the petitioner.

Finally, it provided an unqualified stay and a short-term respite by prohibiting coercion.

According to the current appeal, this did not stop the State Government from harassing the petitioner and, subsequently, his wife.

Sections 504, 505(1)(b), and 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Section 67(A) of the IT Act, and Sections 4 and 5 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 were the offenses for which the contested FIR was filed on March 2, 2012.

On April 26, 2022, a chargesheet was submitted without mentioning the petitioner. An unauthorized search operation was then carried out at his home. The petitioner protested to the appropriate authority about this.

Additionally, it appears that the petitioner is being watched, which violates his right to privacy, with continued illegal surveillance and searches.

The petitioner moved a leave application on September 5, 2022, citing medical issues. He submitted an anticipatory bail application that day, which the Trial Court ultimately denied.

After then, a second motion for anticipatory bail was submitted to the High Court.