A six-member special team comprising five from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and one from the Income Tax department was on Thursday constituted by the Supreme Court to examine the contents of tapped telephonic conversations of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with politicians, corporate honchos and others.
A bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya said the working of the team will be supervised by two officers of the CBI who will report to Superintendent of Police, of the investigating agency dealing with the 2G case.
The bench said that the overall supervision will be under the Deputy Inspector General, CBI who is looking after the case.
The bench said that the team shall submit its report in four months from February 21, 2013.
Earlier this month, the apex court had sought names of officials of CBI, IT department and the Enforcement Directorate for setting up of a team to enquire into the tapped telephonic conversations of Ms. Radia with others to ascertain element of criminality.
The court had earlier said that it had gone through some of the tapped conversations and some of them were “innocuous” and hence, the voluminous transcripts were needed to be “scrutinised” to find out elements of “criminality” in them.
It had also made clear that the scrutiny would be limited to those conversations which pertain to criminal element and relating to interest of justice.
Earlier, senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Ratan Tata, had submitted that “utmost secrecy” be maintained in the scrutiny of transcripts.
He was referring to various conversations that took place between Mr. Tata and Ms. Radia which are allegedly personal in nature.
“There are some conversations in public domain and those are hardly personal in nature. They relate to illegality and shed significant light on how government decisions are being influenced and how institutions run in the country,” Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Centre for Public Interest Litigation, had said.
Excerpts from the tapes earlier leaked in the media had sparked a political storm with the conversations bringing out the nature of corporate lobbying and also its purported impact on politics.
The income tax department placed transcripts of 5,800 tapped telephone conversations in 50 sealed envelopes.
The conversations were recorded as part of surveillance of Ms. Radia’s phone on a complaint to 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.
The government had recorded 180 days of Ms. 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.