Radia tapes not confined only to 2G scam: SC

Radia tapes not confined only to 2G scam: SC New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up government agencies for not taking action on the basis of taped conversations of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with top politicians, businessmen and others which show various serious matters like cross-border transactions.

The apex court said that the conversations pertain to multiple issues that were sidelined by the government agencies which entirely focused on those portions that pertained to 2G scam.

On the contents of the conversations, a bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi said that they indicate presence of middlemen in every government department.

"Virtually in every government field, private persons- you call them liasoning officers or middlemen- are present in every nook and corner," it said.

The court said that the conversations are much more than 2G issue and not confined only to the telecom sector and contain information about tran-border transactions, somebody taking over a company and other serious issues.

The court was hearing a plea of an NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation seeking the court's direction to the government to make the conversations public.

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.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, submitted that government agencies did not take any action on the basis of information they got from taped conversation because powerful people were involved in it.

"Persons involved are so powerful that nobody wanted to touch them and take any action against them," he said.

He contended that the conversations indicated that calls were made for cricket betting, illegal transaction, bribing and various dealings in petroleum, media, power, civil aviation and telecom sectors but no action was taken since 2009.

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 apex court had ordered setting up of a team of investigators to examine the contents of the conversations.

The court had perused the report and transcripts prepared by the special team of investigators and said that "some of the items highlighted will become the subject matter of investigation".

PTI