Also wants copy of probe report submitted by Centre
Industrialist Ratan Tata on Wednesday made a plea in the Supreme Court for a CBI probe to fix the source of leakage of conversations in the Niira Radia tapes.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, while making this submission before a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhaya, also wanted access to the probe report submitted by the Union government on the leakage of tapes containing conversations of the former corporate lobbyist, Niira Radia, with him and others.
Referring to the report given to the court in a sealed cover, Mr. Rohatgi said: “Have they [government] taken any action or is it just lip service? Why have they given the report only to the court? How do we know whether the government is just and not covering up?”
He said: “Larger public interest demands that the report be made available to ensure that there is no such wanton tapping in future. This government has violated my privacy.” Mr. Rohatgi contended that Mr. Tata’s entire conversation with Ms. Radia was private. “I don’t care if anyone else’s phone is tapped. If I am impacted [by the tapping], I have a right.”
Even if tapping was “authorised,” the government was remiss in not following the procedure mandated by law to store the tapes properly and review within 60 days whether these should be destroyed.
“That procedure has been clearly violated in my case. It should not be repeated in future. They obviously realise that there was a systemic failure. Prima facie, in this case, the government seems to have granted permission to tap in a routine manner. The Home Secretary has to apply his mind to a range of issues such as whether the tapping was absolutely necessary and there was no other recourse before him. The wanton phone tapping that is going on should be an eye-opener for the future.”
Leak or cover-up?
Mr. Rohatgi said the inquiry should reveal whether a leak occurred in the system or whether it was a cover-up by the government. If there were leaks, the government should put in place systemic checks. The issue should not be closed because the government had submitted a report.
There should be an inquiry either by the CBI or the CVC or some other independent agency into the purloining of the tapes. The same agency could also set the standards for the future.
The government’s claim to privilege to deny a copy of the probe report could not override the larger public interest.
“It is in larger public interest to know whether the government is following the law and protecting the privacy of citizens or breaking it in a wanton manner. This is not a police state,” he said.
Arguments will continue on Thursday.