The Maharashtra government told Esplanade Magistrates Court on Thursday that BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis is a star witness in the confidential document leak case involving IPS officer Rashmi Shukla.
The court will approve an order on December 28 on the Maharashtra government’s request seeking certain documents and devices from the Union Ministry of the Interior (MHA) to investigate the leak of crucial government documents from the State Intelligence Department (SID), then headed by IPS. Rashmi Shukla.
The BJP leader and former chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis, had submitted documents to the MHA alleging large-scale corruption in police transfers in Maharashtra.
Special prosecutor Ajay Misar argued that ACP investigating officer Nitin Jadhav had sent four letters to the Secretary of the Interior in Delhi between May 3 and September 23 for those documents and devices to be returned. However, there was no reply.
Judge Sudhir Bhajipale asked Misar: “On what basis do you conclude that the documents and the flash drives are with the affiant?” Misar replied that Fadnavis had said in an interview that he would hand over the documents and the device to the Home Secretary in Mumbai.
Jadhav claimed that Fadnavis did not give a statement, but is a star witness as he can reveal the person who leaked the confidential documents.
However, lawyer Shreeram Shirsat, who appeared on behalf of the Home Secretary, said the Maharashtra government’s request is vague and does not specify what exactly the state wants.
“You have to identify the document, demonstrate with some credible proof that the document is in the possession of said party,” Shirsat said, adding that the interior secretary is not a defendant in the case. He also asked if a public office can be called upon to reveal confidential documents, adding that the state’s request was too premature.
While finishing his arguments in the rejoinder, Misar added that the investigation into the leak of confidential documents is not an errant investigation but a proper investigation. They have not denied that they do not have the material. They have a duty to turn it over to the investigating agency, Misar said.
The investigation involves three flash drives seized by the then head of the State Intelligence Department, Rashmi Shukla, which contained information stored on the department’s servers, and two of them, including the one sent to the then state DGP, are with the government. However, the authorities cannot trace the third pendrive.
The higher court had observed that the police are in the process of finding how the flash drive containing confidential material was fraudulently retained, downloaded and copied without authorization.
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