SC Wants CBI to Scrutinise Transcripts of Radia Tapes
The Supreme Court today said the tapped telephone conversations of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with politicians, corporate honchos and others needs to be scrutinised by the CBI to find out any element of criminality.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya said that it had gone through transcripts of some of the conversations which were not personal and innocuous in nature.

"We have gone through some of the conversations. Some of them are innocuous but others are not. It needs to be scrutinised. It cannot be done by us. Even if we shuffle through, it would take hours," the bench said, adding the voluminous transcripts "need to be scrutinised to find out any element of criminality in them".

It asked the CBI to name officers who will be available to scrutinise the documents. Additional Solicitor General Haren Rawal, who appears for CBI, was not present in the court to respond to the query.

The bench, thereafter, adjourned the hearing for February 13 and expressed displeasure on non-appearance of Rawal in the case. Rawal's junior told the court that he has gone to Lucknow to appear in a case in the High Court there.

The bench, during the hearing, made it clear that scrutiny would be limited to those conversations which pertain to a criminal element and relating to interest of justice.

"It should be confined to issues relating to criminal element and interest of justice," the bench said when senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for former Tata chief Ratan Tata, said private conversations should be excluded from scrutiny.

"Utmost secrecy must be maintained while it is being scrutinised," Salve said.

He was referring to various conversations that took place between Tata and Radia which are allegedly personal in nature.

The bench also made it clear that any criminal elements in the conversations would be taken to the court of law.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, submitted that SIT should be formed to conduct scrutiny of the transcription.

"There are some conversations in public domain and those are hardly personal in nature. They relate to illegality and shed significant light on how government decisions are being influenced and how institutions run in the country," he said.

The bench, however, said that the plea for SIT is premature and it might be considered at a later stage.

Excerpts from the tapes earlier leaked in the media had sparked a political storm with the conversations bringing out the nature of corporate lobbying and also its purported impact on politics.

The income tax department 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 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.
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3/D-113
Feb 09, 2013
03:54 PM

Outlook India : SC Wants CBI to Scrutinise Transcripts of Radia Tapes
New Delhi | Feb 08, 2013

No purpose will be served by slamming the income tax deptt for tappng the phones of the corporate lobbyist.This has,in fact, turned out to be a blessing in disguise.The public now knows how government decisions are influenced by the corporate bigwigs. This practice has been followed by successive governments for decades.Since the taped conversations have been in public domain,there is nothing private to be ignored. The scrutiny report of the income tax authorities aught to be submitted to the Apex court. It would be reasonable to assume that the rest must have already been scrutinized by the CBI. Why can’t the Hon’ble Supreme court be informed accordingly about the criminal conspiracy that involves politicians, businessmen and journos.


A K SAXENA (A retired civil servant)
www.aksaxena.co.in
blog.aksaxena.co.in
 

A K SAXENA, DELHI.INDIA
2/D-72
Feb 09, 2013
10:58 AM

 The very fact that there is such a Himalayan mountain of transcripts shows that the IT authorities have grossly misused the power of tapping telephones, which powers they acquired relatively recently. And there can be no doubt that the leak also took place from the same source (probably with the blessings of the powers that be/were). It illustrates how dangerous it is to entrust irresponsible and untrained personnel with such sensitive powers which are to be used sparingly and for specific purposes(national security) in a democracy where the right to privacy of the individual is sacrosanct.

In developed countries such powers can be exercised only through  court orders, after fully satisfying the judge of its critical need (that can't be done in India for obvious reasons). In fact the monitoring officers are even strictly instructed to switch off the recording system when something not relevant to the stated objective of tapping is being discussed by the targets. 

One wishes that the Supreme Court had concentrated on this higher misdemeanour of the Income Tax Department.

Ramesh Ramachandra, Bangalore
2/D-71
Feb 09, 2013
10:58 AM

 The very fact that there is such a Himalayan mountain of transcripts shows that the IT authorities have grossly misused the power of tapping telephones, which powers they acquired relatively recently. And there can be no doubt that the leak also took place from the same source (probably with the blessings of the powers that be/were). It illustrates how dangerous it is to entrust irresponsible and untrained personnel with such sensitive powers which are to be used sparingly and for specific purposes(national security) in a democracy where the right to privacy of the individual is sacrosanct.

In developed countries such powers can be exercised only through  court orders, after fully satisfying the judge of its critical need (that can't be done in India for obvious reasons). In fact the monitoring officers are even strictly instructed to switch off the recording system when something not relevant to the stated objective of tapping is being discussed by the targets. 

One wishes that the Supreme Court had concentrated on this higher misdemeanour of the Income Tax Department.

Ramesh Ramachandra, Bangalore
1/D-137
Feb 08, 2013
06:04 PM

 "Utmost secrecy must be maintained while it is being scrutinised," Salve said

Secrecy? The Radia tapes have been in the public domain for a very long time, Mr. Salve.

D.L.Narayan, Visakhapatnam
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