In a major development, the Pune Police on Saturday lodged an FIR against IPS officer and a former Pune Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla in connection with the phone-tapping scandal that erupted last year, officials said here.
Following the report of a three-member committee, the state government ordered the Bund Garden Police Station to file the FIR against Shukla, a 1988 batch IPS officer, who is currently the Additional DGP, CRPF.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government had set up a committee headed by former DGP Sanjay Pandey, which said in its recent report that Shukla — during her tenure as Pune Police Commissioner — had illegally tapped phones, and an FIR has been filed against her and others, said the police.
At the time when the phone-tapping episode erupted, she was serving as the Additional DGP of Maharashtra State Intelligence Department but was later shunted as Chief of Civil Defence on September 3, 2020.
In March 2021, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis had shared phone call records and other evidence of officers allegedly attempting to influence former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh for transfers or plum postings.
The MVA had ordered a probe into the ‘illegal’ phone tapping carried out by Shukla, ostensibly to unearth the alleged police transfers-postings scam and leaking of the sensitive data.
In his probe report submitted to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the then Chief Secretary Sitaram J. Kunte had pointed an accusing finger at Shukla for overstepping her brief (IANS – March 25, 2021).
When confronted, Shukla not only admitted her mistake but also apologised for her actions, citing personal and family issues like her husband’s death due to cancer and children’s education, etc.
“She (Shukla) had met the CM, Home Minister (Anil Deshmukh) and myself and expressed regrets on the matter. She also sought permission to withdraw her report. Since she was a woman officer who had undergone traumatic personal problems and had admitted to her fault, a sympathetic view was taken and the matter was not pursued further,” Kunte’s report to Thackeray said.
Shukla’s ‘Top Secret’ report of August 25, 2020, had damned several key personalities, including Deshmukh, in the alleged corruption thriving in the police promotions-transfer racket, but it was shockingly ‘leaked’ into the public domain.
Following Kunte’s report and a complaint by the state CID, the Mumbai Cyber Police Station lodged an FIR on March 26, 2021 against ‘unknown persons’ invoking various sections under the Official Secrets Act, Indian Telegraph Act and Information Technology Act.
Several MVA ministers had painted Shukla as a BJP ‘agent’, claiming that after the October 2019 Assembly elections, she had attempted to lure legislators with huge monies in return for support to the BJP in the government formation exercise.
They also demanded a probe into Shukla’s own phone call records for a month after the elections results were announced in the third week of October 2019 to unravel the truth, pointing out how certain officials who were given important postings were still loyal to the opposition party (BJP).
Fearing arrest after Mumbai Police summons to join the probe, Shukla had moved the Bombay High Court where the government assured that she would not be arrested if she cooperated in the investigations.
Subsequently, the Maharashtra Police had recorded her statements and on Saturday the Pune Bund Garden Police filed the FIR for illegal phone-tapping of prominent politicians, mainly of opposition parties, between 2015 and 2019, when the BJP-led alliance was in power.