The Union government was on Thursday directed by the Supreme Court to produce all original records relating to the tapping of lobbyist Niira Radia conversations with bureaucrats, industrialists and others.
A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and V. Gopala Gowda gave this direction while hearing a writ petition filed by industrialist Ratan Tata seeking protection of his right to privacy.
Even as Additional Solicitor General P.P. Malhotra was making his submissions, Justice Singhvi wanted him to produce the records relating to tapping of Ms. Radia’s telephonic conversations. When the ASG said an officer was on his way to the court with the records, Justice Singhvi observed: “First you produce the records. We are not hearing you. It is most unfortunate that Government of India’s counsel is not in a position to assist the court.”
The Bench directed the ASG to produce the original records of the Home Ministry as well as the minutes of the review committee that dealt with the surveillance in 2008-09 on August 27.
Earlier, senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Mr. Tata, drew the court’s attention to a newspaper publishing details of the report submitted by the CBI. He said criminal proceedings should be initiated for contempt of court. He alleged that both the government and the CBI had not taken any action on the leak. The publication had mocked the court and grossly interfered with the proceedings.
Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, said except the court, no one had the right to see the report. Leak and publication of the contents of the report would amount to theft and gross interference in court proceedings, which should be investigated by the Central Vigilance Commission.
The Bench told counsel that it had not formed any opinion so far and it would pass an appropriate order later. The Bench said there were 52 bundles of the report and they saw only part of it and left it to a team to provide them the highlights. The team’s report indicated criminality in certain aspects of it. The Bench directed the matter to be listed for further hearing on August 27.