Make transcripts of 5,800 Radia tapes: Apex court (Lead)

September 6th, 2012 - 10:50 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 6 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday told the Income Tax Department to prepare the transcripts of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia’s 5,800 telephone conversations tapped over allegations of the spectacular rise of her business and her foreign connections.

An apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya directed the director general (investigations) to get the transcripts of the telephone conversations and submit them within two months.

The apex court was hearing of a petition by industrialist Ratan Tata seeking to restrain the media from publishing the transcripts as this violated his right to privacy.

The department had put Radia’s phone under surveillance thrice for 60 days each between 2008-09.

The court direction came when it was told by Additional Solicitor General A.S. Chandhiok that the I-T department did not prepare the transcripts but merely heard the tapped conversations before preparing a report on relevant material for appraisal by the review committee.

Mocking the submission by the department, the court wondered if it was expecting the court to hear these conversations.

The court noted that it was three years since the Radia tapes were in the possession of I-T department and till now their transcripts had not been prepared.

The court described it as a serious matter that the department had not prepared the transcripts of the intercepted 5,800 telephone conversation of Radia telephones which allegedly concerned dubious transactions impacting national security.

“The nation is affected by fiscal transactions which are highly dubious,” observed Justice Singhvi.

“We don’t want to make any comment” but “a lot needs to be done”, the court observed, adding that the status report submitted by the I-T department showed no details.

The court ordered the making of the complete transcripts of the Radia tapes in view of the prayer made in the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) petition seeking directions to “place these transcripts in the public domain”.

The CPIL said that those portions of the transcripts which were personal in nature could be held back.

The CPIL prayed that the conversations which showed some illegality or criminality should be thoroughly investigated and matters be taken to their logical conclusion.

Radia’s phones were put under surveillance by the I-T department after the finance ministry Nov 16, 2007 received an anonymous letter alleging that in a short span of few years she had built a business house of Rs.300 crore. The complaint had also alleged foreign connections of Radia.

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