The Supreme Court on Thursday sought the Centre's response on an application from industrialist Ratan Tata for a direction to make available a copy of the report on the probe conducted by it on the leakage of the Niira Radia tapes.

A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadaya issued notice on the application seeking the Centre's reply in three weeks and posted the matter for further hearing on March 27.

Mr. Tata, in his application said that during the course of hearing on January 31, the Additional Solicitor General, appearing for the Union of India submitted the enquiry report in a sealed cover regarding leakage of documents/recordings from the Income Tax Department.

He said the petition was directed against the abject failure of the Centre and its authorised functionaries to discharge their duty under the law and to the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution, especially by way of maintaining and ensuring secrecy and confidentiality with respect to intercepted material and taking appropriate action against those who had purloined such material and then used it for indiscriminate publication.

Mr. Tata said the enquiry had been conducted in a manner that would hardly inspire public confidence. There had been a degree of public concern over the manner and extent of wire tapping resorted to by the Union of India and now even by its Income Tax Department. He said if the material retrieved from such extensive wire tapping was not secure, it would be a serious infraction of the right of privacy of a citizen under Article 21 of the Constitution.

He said it seemed from the submissions made by counsel for the Centre that the agencies which conducted the wire tap were not responsible for the leak. “If the Centre seeks to reply on the report and to place it before the court, it would obviously be incumbent on it to make copies available to the petitioner. No person who has received the material in violation of the statutory mandate — including the media — has any right to use or publish the same or to withhold information regarding the source from which it has been illegally obtained,” he said

Mr. Tata said the leakage raised very substantial doubts as to the level of confidentiality maintained by the government and/or service providers in respect of intercepted material.

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