Censuring the Centre over its failure in fixing accountability in the leakage of audio tapes containing telephonic conversations of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with various persons,including Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata,the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would pass directives for the authorities to ensure no leakage of tapped conversations in future since it might also endanger national security.
A Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya also snubbed the government for expressing its difficulties in providing absolute safeguard against the leakage of tapes and hacking in the wake of the fast-changing technology.
You cannot tell us that you cannot check all this since technology changes every 24 hours. You are the Centre. You must keep pace with technological developments and rather you must keep ahead of them. These conversations (Radia tapes) are of no relevance when we consider that there could be tapes containing crucial information on national security. Such leakage or hacking of computers could pose threats. Further steps will have to be directed by us, the Bench told Additional Solicitor General A S Chandhiok.
It also dubbed as hardly satisfactory the governments report,stating that its inquiry had failed to find out how and by whom the audio tapes containing telephonic conversations of Radia were leaked.
Your reports are hardly satisfactory. The less said the better. Somebody must be made accountable for the leakage. We are bound to know who is accountable for it, said the Bench,grilling the ASG on what steps they have taken to prevent such lapses.
The court underlined that the Centres reply failed to disclose if they had put in place a proper mechanism. What steps you have taken? There is no reply on how to prevent such leakages in future. In future it will again happen. If you are not able to protect,then why you go for tapping? We must do something otherwise in future,there will be a leakage even on the matters of national interest, said the Bench.
It observed that the government had admitted that even in these tapes,there could be certain conversations pertaining to national security. So they must also be with everyone who has these tapes. Fortunately they have not come out but what is the guarantee that it has not been passed on other agencies,also those in foreign countries? questioned the court.
The court also discarded the argument that there was no leakage from the governments side,saying that since they were the custodian of these tapes,they could not wriggle out of responsibility.
So how did they leak? Was somebody intercepting your intercepts? You must have a proper mechanism. We are concerned with the possible damage to the national framework, noted the court,asking the ASG to bring on Wednesday documents to show what steps the government has taken to rectify the situation. Meanwhile,Prashant Bhushan,counsel for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation,concluded his arguments in the case,requesting for making certain conversations public.
Tata moved the court for action against those involved in the leakage of the tapes since it infringed his fundamental right to life,which includes right to privacy.