Supreme Court orders probe into nine Radia ‘issues’ in tapes

Phone tapping: CBI confirmed 'criminality' in July; court had promised probe.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published:October 18, 2013 3:23 am

Pointing to “deep-rooted malice” and “connivance” of private entrepreneurs with government officials for illegal gains,the Supreme Court Thursday ordered a CBI investigation into various contentious conversations that former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia tapes had had with several people,including industrialists and journalists.

A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and C Nagappan directed the CBI to probe into seven “issues” out of the 16 flagged by the agency as it examined the telephonic conversations of Radia intercepted by the income-tax department between 2008 and 2009.

“The conversations are indicative of the deep-rooted malice by private enterprises in connivance with government officials and others for extraneous purposes. Interested persons have secured gains from government officers and others which are suggestive of corrupt means being adopted by private parties to extract gains,” the bench said.

The court did not reveal the “issues” to be inquired into by CBI.

The bench rejected a proposal by the special team,which was constituted by the court to transcribe the tapped conversation and point out specific elements of criminality,to refer five out of the nine “issues” to states for investigation by their respective police.

Favouring a thorough CBI inquiry into all the nine issues that the CBI had claimed to involve criminality,the bench asked the agency to proceed and register fresh Preliminary Enquiries (PEs) into seven instances.

While one matter has been referred to the Chief Justice of India for “consideration and appropriate actions,” the ninth matter has been sent by the court to the Chief Vigilance Officer in the Ministry of Mines for necessary action.

The bench asked the CBI to constitute a special team to carry out the investigations and submit its probe report on the PEs within two months,by December 16. It also directed that the transcription and examination of other tapped conversations,which were left out in the first round of scrutiny,should continue.

Appearing for the CBI,Additional Solicitor General Paras Kuhad had,on July 31,confirmed criminality in the Radia tapes case,and told the court that the agency was willing to start a probe. He had handed over a summary of the analysis of 5,800 tapped conversations,and said that at least four cases needed investigation.

The court had agreed with the ASG,saying there were several “uncomfortable” issues and “lurking dangers” in the conversations. “There are certainly matters to be investigated. There are at least 10 cases of such nature. Some of the items highlighted will become the subject matter of investigation. We will direct thorough investigation into all these issues and there is no doubt about it. As and when occasion arises,we will ask the CBI to investigate,” the court had said.

During a subsequent hearing,the bench had pulled up the CBI for not taking action on the Radia tapes,saying they revealed “serious issues” that were “much more than 2G”,including the presence of middlemen “virtually in every government field”.

The court said that the conversations indicated that “virtually in every government field,private persons — you call them liaisoning officers or middlemen — are present in every nook and corner”,and that it was “surprised” that CBI did not probe further when the very first conversation (about 2G) referred to a conspiracy.

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