Leakage of Radia tapes being probed: Govt tells SC

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 - 14:23

New Delhi: Government on Tuesday told the
Supreme Court that it was taking seriously the issue of
leakage of conversation between Tata chief Ratan Tata and
corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and that an inquiry has been
ordered into it.
"The government views the disclosure of such
information seriously and in this context, an inquiry has
been ordered," an affidavit filed by the government said.

It also denied the allegation of Tata that it had
adopted a lackadaisical attitude on a petition filed by Tata.

"I deny that the government has adopted a
lackadaisical attitude or that it was standing by and allowing
leaked material of this kind to be freely distributed and
published," the two-page affidavit filed by Additional
Director of Income Tax (Investigations) said.

The affidavit said that by an office memorandum issued
on December 27, 2010, the Ministry of Finance appointed two
senior officers to inquire into the leakage of "classified
documents/telephonic intercepts".
"The terms of reference of the inquiry committee are
detailed and comprehensive and reflect the concern of the
Ministry of Finance to properly investigate the matter and to
take a comprehensive view of the subject," it said.

The government said it is not correct on the part of
Tata to allege that it is its perception that the leakage of
such material and its consequential publication were not a
matter of concern.

"It is not suggested by the government that it is
under no duty to ensure that the wire tapped material is not
leaked," the affidavit said.

Tata had moved the apex court seeking a probe into the
leakage of the tapes of his private conversation with Radia.

In his petition, he had sought action against those
involved in the leakage, alleging that such an act amounts to
infringement of his fundamental right to life, which includes
right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Tata had argued that making public his conversation
with Radia also violates his Right to Speech and Expression
under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

Tata`s petition, filed on November 29 last, had also
sought that as an interim relief steps should be taken to
prevent online portals and electronic media from publishing
material which had been "illegally" and "unlawfully" obtained
by them.

Tata had also sought the court`s direction to the
government to "retrieve" and "recover" the leaked tapes.

In response to Tata`s petition, the government in its
affidavit filed earlier in December last year, had told the
court that it was not possible for it to stop the publication
of transcripts of leaked tapes or to retrieve them.

The government had also contended that the income tax
department cannot take action against any cell phone service
provider who may have been responsible for "unauthorised
supply of information".

"It is not possible or practical for the government
to take steps to retrieve the various copies of some of the
transcripts which have appeared in the print media or in the
electronic media and which are being circulated on the
Internet," the government affidavit had said.

In response, Tata, in his counter-affidavit early last
month had accused the government of adopting a "lackadaisical
attitude" on the leakage of his tapped telephonic talks with
Radia, saying the government has remained least bothered about
the violation of his individual`s privacy.

"Petitioner (Tata) is seriously concerned about the
lackadaisical attitude of the government on standing by and
allowing purloined material of this kind to be freely
distributed and published without taking any step to retrieve
it or to find out the source of leakage," Tata had said in his
affidavit.

He said failure to protect his tapped conversations
from being leaked and letting it reach outsiders "was not a
matter of many great moments in law".

Tata had pointed out that the Centre`s affidavit to
the apex court "gives the impression that it is the perception
of the government that while protecting such wiretap material
is required by the rules, the failure to safeguard such
material leaking out and reaching the hands of outsiders does
not warrant any step on the part of the government to retrieve
it" or to probe as to how the leak occurred.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 - 14:23

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