The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the government officials of Chhattisgarh including some close aides of Chhattisgarh's Chief Minister Bhupesh Bhagel for alleged surveillance and hounding of Ashok Chaturvedi, a government official working as a Joint Commissioner of Development Commissioner Raipur (Chhattisgarh).

The Bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli has directed the government officials not to take any coercive steps against Ashok Chaturvedi in pursuance of the FIR registered against him.

Chaturvedi had filed a Writ Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India before the Apex Court stating that the Petition has been filed under extremely urgent circumstances as they are left with no alternative because of their victimization by the violation of the right to privacy, of not only his but also of his wife (Petitioner No. 2).

The Petitioner was represented by Senior Advocate Mukul Rohtagi and AOR Abhinav Shrivastava before the Apex Court.

It was further stated in the Petition that there were numerous visits and surveillance made in the house of Petitioners without any search warrant or document signifying the legal sanction issued by any Court of law, from August 30, 2022, to date.

The Petitioner also stated that an FIR was registered against him for the offences under Sections 504, 505(1)(b), and 505(2) of IPC, Section 67(A) of the IT Act, and Sections 4 and 5 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act. Thus, the arbitrary Acts of the Respondent–State Agency are evident in a crystal clear way in the form of political victimization of the Petitioner.

It was also mentioned that the Petitioner had approached the High Court and Supreme Court a total around 18 times vide various Writ Petitions under Articles 226 and 32 of the Constitution and through various anticipatory applications under Section 438 of CrPC and in almost all the Petitions are based on prima facie grounds of the vindictive political attack on the Petitioners and they are under the shelter of protective orders passed by the Courts.

Through the Petition, the Petitioner has addressed some questions of law to the Apex Court including the question – "Whether the conduct of the Respondents state agency in the present case against the Petitioners herein requires the most urgent interference by the Court as it blatant violation of their rights to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution of India in the name of the continuous search and surveillance of the resident of the Petitioners herein without any legal sanction or due process of law starting from August 30, 2022 to till date."

The Petition also states that in the year 2018-19 after the assembly election the ruling Government in Chhattisgarh was changed after 15 years and the new Government of the Indian National Congress came into power after ruling out the previous government and regime of the BJP. After the new Government was formed, most of the key administrative officers who were in leadership positions irrespective of their service records on merits, started being targeted in the same fashion in a way that they are not fit and suitable for the current dispensation in the State.

Due to this, the Petitioner stated he was one of the prime members among all the officers to get removed from his post as his name was reflected as the main target by the political entities and the said political vendetta was signed by the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh directing his removal.

The Petitioner further stated that despite the protective orders passed in his favor by the High Court and Apex Court, the Respondent State had gone to the extent of freezing his bank accounts of not just the Petitioner but also of the entire family.

The Petitioner highlighted the fact that the facts of the case clearly demonstrate that a major national level political party and some highest officers in its ruled state harbor, ill-will, hatred, and personal vendetta against the Petitioner.

The Petitioner had thus prayed for a direction of the Court to the Respondents to stop immediately the continuing search and surveillance which has been carried out with the permanent residence of the Petitioners from August 30, 2022, till date, as it violates their fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution, quash the FIR registered against him for the alleged offences, issue a direction directing Respondents to cease and desist from continuing with the search of Petitioner No. 1 without the issuance of a search warrant.

Cause Title – Ashok Chaturvedi & Anr. v. State of Chhattisgarh & Ors.

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