The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would direct a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into several aspects arising out of the tapped telephonic conversations of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with top corporate honchos and others.
The apex court,which perused the report and transcripts prepared by its specially constituted team of investigators,said “some of the items highlighted will become the subject matter of investigation”.
“We will direct a thorough investigation in to all these issues. As and when the matter will arise,this court will order a CBI probe,” a bench comprising Justice G S Singhvi and Justice V Gopala Gowda said.
Additional Solicitor General Paras Kuhat,who was appearing for the CBI,said,”We will abide by the directions of the court.”
The bench was told that there are four cases in which CBI could probe but in two cases it did not have jurisdiction and the concerned states have to look into the investigation.
The bench said it would pass an order after hearing the stand of the Centre whether a CBI probe can be extended to those matters falling in the jurisdiction of the states.
It said the whole episode did not reflect a happy scenario due to delay in taking action on the leakage of the tapped conversations.
“Why did the concerned agency (Income Tax Department) not act on the leaked conversations”? The bench said.
The analysis of the conversations,done by a six-member special team constituted by the apex court and comprising five from CBI and one from Income Tax department,was placed before a bench headed by Justice Singhvi in a sealed cover.
“Officers entrusted with the task have done a commendable job. Officers said that it has to be further investigated. There are suggestions on ten issues,” the bench said after going through the report.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan submitted the apex court should monitor the probe on this issue.
“This investigation also needs court monitoring. There is foot-dragging going on by different authorities,” he said.
The bench,however,said it would pass order when required and said the probe needs to brought to a logical conclusion.
“Public confidence gets enhanced only when the final verdict is delivered,” the bench said and referred the conviction of Rajat Gupta in the US.
The special team was set up by the apex court on February 21 examine the contents of tapped telephonic conversations of Radia.
Excerpts from the tapes earlier leaked to the media had sparked a political storm with the conversations bringing out the nature of corporate lobbying and also its impact on politics.
The income tax department had placed transcripts of 5,800 tapped telephone conversations in 50 sealed envelopes.
The conversations were recorded as part of surveillance of Radia’s phone on a complaint to the Finance Minister on November 16,2007 alleging that within a span of nine years she had built up a business empire worth Rs 300 crore.
The government had recorded 180 days of Radia’s conversations–first from August 20,2008 onwards for 60 days and then from October 19 for another 60 days. Later,on May 11,2009,her phone was again put on surveillance for another 60 days following a fresh order given on May 8.