The Central government has been unable to locate the source of leak of the Niira Radia tapes, as all original records had been destroyed.

A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhaya is hearing a writ petition filed by industrialist Ratan Tata, challenging the leak of the tapes containing the conversation between Ms. Radia, a corporate lobbyist, and others, including Mr. Tata.

In the report the government submitted to the court, after conducting a probe into the leak, it said: “It is difficult to find out the source which leaked the tapes.”

After perusing the report, the Bench told counsel Prashant Bhushan: “Regarding the source which leaked the tapes, they [the government] have been unable to find it.” Counsel said: “It is really unfortunate that they have not been able to identify the source.”

Mr. Bhushan was appearing for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, seeking disclosure of the entire conversation in the tapes.

Additional Solicitor-General Indira Jaising said Mr. Tata had no locus standi to question the validity of the interception, so he could not air any grievance. “The petitioner has not made out a prima facie case of violation of his rights, and hence, this writ petition is not maintainable…”

As for Mr. Tata’s contention that the leak had resulted in loss of his reputation, Ms. Jaising said: “Loss of reputation is a matter of defamation and not privacy. The remedy is in the law of defamation, both civil and criminal, and the petitioner has not initiated any such action against any person claiming damages…”

Referring to Mr. Tata’s additional affidavit in which he said he was not seeking remedy for violation of his right of privacy, either in relation to the interception or for the loss of privacy or damage to his reputation, she said: “The entire exercise [is] therefore merely academic and cannot be gone into in this petition.”

The Centre sought dismissal of the petition.

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