Former Samajwadi Party leader withdraws phone-tapping charge against Sonia Gandhi
Former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh has withdrawn his allegation, made in a writ petition before the Supreme Court, against Congress president Sonia Gandhi that there seemed to be a concerted move to tap telephones of leaders in a bid to coerce them into toeing the line of the parties in power at the Centre.
Mr. Singh stated this in an additional affidavit filed before a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly, hearing his plea for a judicial inquiry into the tapping of his phone by the service provider, Reliance Infocomm, at the instance of the Delhi police. Acting on his petition, the court in February 2006 restrained the media from publishing/telecasting the contents of the tapped conversation. He had blamed Ms. Gandhi and other Congress leaders for the tapping of telephones of leaders of parties which were not aligned with the parties in power at the Centre, and said: “This points to an unhealthy trend for the Indian polity and democracy at large.”
During the resumed hearing in the Court when senior counsel and Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Mr. Singh, said an additional affidavit had been filed withdrawing the allegations against the party president, Justice Ganguly observed: “Is it appropriate for this court to spend time on a petition based on fabricated documents? The court is a victim of your affidavit. This matter is engaging the attention of this court. How many hours have been spent by the court on your averments? How many hours and days were spent on your case? When the court is asking you to pinpoint the averments, you are withdrawing the major chunk of your averments.”
When Mr. Singhvi explained that Mr. Singh had made the allegations from personal knowledge, Justice Ganguly said: “If that is your personal knowledge, it cannot be contradicted by yourself. In the petition, you have said that the party in power was misusing the authority but now everything is found to be bogus. Why should the court entertain the petition from a person who has not come with clean hands?” Mr. Amar Singh had alleged that apart from his telephone, the personal telephones of the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh; and his son Akhilesh Yadav, an MP, were being tapped. On behalf of the Centre, it was submitted that the Home Ministry had not issued any orders of phone interception of political personalities. Further no such request had come from the Delhi government. Appearing for the Delhi Police, Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam said Reliance Infocomm did the tapping on the basis of forged authorisation letters. Justice Singhvi pointed out that the court had been taken for a ride with the filing of a frivolous petition and that judicial proceedings had been wasted. When the Solicitor-General said cases had been registered against two persons for forging the authorisation letters and sending them to Reliance Infocomm, Justice Singhvi wanted to know the stage of the trial. When he said charges were yet to be framed, the judge asked him to find out why no charge was framed even after four years. This explained why criminal cases had been pending in courts for 10 to 20 years , the judge lamented.
Arguments will continue on Friday.