Radia tapes: SC seeks Centre’s reply on Ratan Tata plea

Tata is seeking a copy of the report on the probe,which pointed to tampering of Radia tapes.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi | Published: February 16, 2012 1:10:32 pm

The Supreme Court today sought response from the government on whether it could share the probe report on leakage of controversial Radia tapes with Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata.

A Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhyay asked the Centre to file its response on Tata’s plea,seeking a copy of the report on the probe,which pointed out tampering of the tapes released to the media.

The court granted three weeks time to the government to file its reply and posted the matter for further hearing on March 27.

Earlier,the government had expressed reluctance in sharing the report on the ground that the investigation was still in progress to find out how the tapes of Radia’s conversations,tapped by Income Tax Department,got leaked.

The Centre had filed the report in a sealed envelop before the bench on January 31.

In a significant disclosure,the Centre had on January 31 told the apex court the Radia tapes broadcast by media organisations had been tampered with and the government agencies were not responsible for it leaking out.

The government had said there were eight to ten agencies,including service providers,involved in tapping telephonic conversation of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia.

The report said the starting and the end point of the conversation did not match with the original tapes,Justice Singhvi had said referring to the report.

He had said the report also stated that officers,who had conducted the probe,did not know who had leaked it.

Earlier in 2010,the government had turned down Ratan Tata’s plea for taking steps to stop publication of the leaked transcripts in the media.

In February last year,the government had submitted to the apex court a copy of a complaint on basis of which it had begun tapping Radia’s telephonic conversations with several people including politicians,corporate leaders and media persons.

The complaint was given to the court in compliance with its December 13,2010 order,which was passed on Tata’s plea for a probe into the leakage of tapes containing his private conversation with Radia and for stopping its further publication.

The government had told the court that it had begun tapping Radia’s telephone on a complaint alleging she was indulging in anti-national activities and was acting as a spy of foreign intelligence agencies.

The Centre had maintained that conversations were recorded as part of the surveillance ordered by the Directorate General of Income Tax (Investigation) following a complaint received by the Finance Minister on November 16,2007 alleging that Radia had within a short span of nine years built a business empire worth Rs 300 crore.

The government had given details of as to how 180 days of Radia’s conversations were recorded — 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.

Tata had moved the apex court on November 29,2010,seeking action against those involved in the leakage of the tapes alleging that the leakage amounts to infringement of his fundamental right to life,which includes right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.

He had contended that as Radia’s phone was tapped for the purposes of alleged tax evasion,the tapes could not be used for any other purpose.

Tata had argued that making public his conversation with Radia also violated his right to speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

The petition had also asked the apex court to give a direction to the government and its probe agencies to “retrieve” and “recover” the leaked tapes.

In wake of unearthing of the 2G spectrum allocation scam,allegedly involving a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the public exchequer,some journals had published Radia’s taped conversations with politicians,journalists and industrialists.

Transcripts of some of these tapes had also come up on various websites,stirring a controversy over the alleged nexus between lobbyists and journalists.

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