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Delhi Police serves fresh notice to OSD to Rajasthan CM in phone-tapping case

Jaipur: Delhi Police has served a notice on Lokesh Sharma, the OSD to the Rajasthan chief minister, asking him to appear on Monday for questioning in a phone-tapping case going back to the July 2020 political crisis.

The notice comes days before Delhi High Court is scheduled to hear the Delhi Police Crime Branch's application seeking vacating of an interim order staying coercive action against Sharma.

Hearing on the Crime Branch application and a petition by Sharma -- the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot -- seeking quashing of the FIR against him is scheduled for February 20.

On March 25, 2021, the Delhi Police registered an FIR against Sharma for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and unlawfully intercepting telegraphic signals (telephonic conversation) on a complaint lodged by Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the BJP MP from Jodhpur.

An interim order to stay coercive action against Sharma was passed on June 3, 2021, after he approached the high court seeking quashing of the FIR.

According to sources, this is the sixth notice to Sharma under Section 41.1 (A) of the CrPC.
Sharma has appeared for questioning twice -- on December 6, 2021, and May 14, 2022 -- and submitted reasons for not being able to appear on three other dates.

Last month, the Crime Branch moved an application in Delhi High Court seeking vacating of the interim order on the grounds that Sharma has been misusing the interim protection and delaying the investigation.

The phone-tapping controversy dates to the July 2020 political crisis in Congress-ruled Rajasthan.
Audio clips of alleged telephonic conversations between Shekhawat and Congress leaders surfaced amid a rebellion against Gehlot by his then deputy Sachin Pilot and 18 party MLAs supporting him.

It was alleged that Sharma circulated the purported clips about an alleged conspiracy to topple the Congress government.
Sharma has rejected the allegations. (PTI)

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