SC seeks Centre response on action taken against Radia

SC seeks Centre response on action taken against Radia New Delhi: Pulling up the government for producing unsigned documents, the Supreme Court today sought to know what action has been taken against former corporate lobbysit Niira Radia after tapping her phone on the basis of a complaint againt her.

In an embarrassment to the government, a bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya put some searching questions to it for placing before it unsigned documents without official notings on the Radia phone tapping case.

"We would like to know whether investigation is still going on (on the complaint against Radia) and which agency is conducting the investigation," the bench said.

The court asked the government to respond on the next date of hearing "whether any FIR has been registered after tapping the conversations".

The conversations were recorded as part of surveillance of Radia's phone, on the orders of Directorate General of Income Tax (Investigation) 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.

The government was hard put to convince the court that all the rules were followed in the phone tapping after the pointed out the documents placed before it was not signed by officials.

"These are reports not signed by anybody. There must be an author of the report. You can change unsigned report and place before us and we have to believe it," the bench observed.

"Only correspondences and unsigned reports are before us. Where are the notings?” the bench remarked. Additional Solicitor General A S Chandhiok told the bench that these are confidential reports and the notings are not in such reports.

After going through the reports, the bench said that "Prima facie we are not inclined to agree with you".

The bench at one stage said that it would ask the Home Secretary to file affidavit on the issue that notings are not put in confidential reports but refrain from passing such orders.

The bench, however, gave a stern warning that the ASG should get all the information regarding the tapping case and status of its inquiry against Radia after Chandhiok failed to reply its queries.

"Please have full information. This is not acceptable. If you require presence of government officials then do it. When we ask questions you say that I will take instruction. This is not done," the bench said.

The bench also said that there are many loose ends in the reports regarding adherence of rules on phone tapping.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata, who had moved the apex court on November 29, 2010 for action against those involved in the leakage of the tapes saying that the leakage amounted to infringement of his fundamental right to life, which includes right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.

PTI