Ratan Tata wants copy of probe report into Radia tapes
New Delhi: Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata today faced some questions in the Supreme Court on his petition seeking a direction to the Centre for disclosure of the inquiry report into the leakage of controversial tapes containing conversations of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with him and others.
A bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya asked on how he can seek a copy of the report as the petition filed by him had only sought an inquiry into the leakage of the tape which has been done by the Centre.
"You are enlarging your prayer by filing application seeking contents of the probe report," the bench said adding that "government is itself making an inquiry and the report will be placed before us."
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Tata, however, submitted that it was necessary to see the findings of the report as his entire arguments will be based on it.
"My entire arguments will be on the basis of the report. It is clear that there is leakage of conversation tapped by the government but it is not clear which agency or officials are responsible for it. It is necessary to know how it was done to prevent such leakage in future," Rohatgi said.
He said the intercepted phone calls were a property of the government and its disclosure was violation of his right to privacy.
"I am entitled to know how it was leaked. I am not interested in claiming damages. I want to ensure that such lackadaisical approach should not be taken by the government in future," he said.
The bench, however, observed that the government has already taken action and if there is a breach of law then it will seek a response from the government.
The arguments remained inconclusive and will resume on Thursday.
Tata had moved the apex court on November 29, 2010, seeking action against those involved in the leakage of the tapes alleging the leakage amounts to infringement of his fundamental right to life, which includes right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Expressing reservation over Rohotgi's plea for disclosing the report, the bench said the person whose phone was tapped is not before it.
The bench suggested he can claim damages from the media house which published the conversation but Rohatgi said his client is not interested in taking action against the media house.
The government earlier on January 31 had placed the confidential report in a sealed envelope claiming that Radia tapes broadcast by media organisations were tampered with and eight to ten agencies, including the service providers, were involved in the tapping of Radia's telephonic conversation.
The Centre had expressed reluctance to share the report on the ground that the investigation was still on to find out as to how the tapes of Radia's conversations, tapped by the Income Tax Department, got leaked.
Through an affidavit to the apex court, Tata had sought a probe by a "skilled" independent agency into the leakage of the controversial tapes saying the probe conducted so far "hardly inspires public confidence".
"On this account (leakage of tapes), the department, which conducted the wire tap, has been under scrutiny. Since this is all done at a fairly high level within the departments, for any inquiry to be fair and transparent, it would have to be by done by an outside agency skilled in making investigations -- this has not been done," Tata had said in his affidavit.
The conversations were recorded by the government 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 span of nine years 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.