The Supreme Court Wednesday said many things in the tapped phone call transcripts of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia were uncomfortable and the CBI said certain aspects in them required probe.
“The CBI has drawn several conclusions and tentative inferences highlighting many things in this meticulous transcripts. Many things are uncomfortable in it,” said the apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice V. Gopala Gowda.
The investigating agency said it needed to register a preliminary enquiry (PE) and conduct a probe, along with other agencies, on some issues related to the transcripts.
The agency said this in its report based on its scrutiny of the Radia tapes carrying 5,800 telephonic conversations which were perused by the apex court.
The CBI submitted its report upon the scrutiny of Radia tapes in the apex court registry July 15.
Radia’s phones were put under surveillance by the Income Tax department after the finance ministry Nov 16, 2007, received an anonymous letter alleging that in a short span of a few years, she had built a business empire of Rs.300 crore. The complaint had also alleged foreign connections of Radia.
The Income Tax department put Radia’s phone under surveillance thrice for 60 days each between 2008-09.
The court was hearing an NGO’s petition seeking directions to place the transcripts, which show some illegality or criminality, in public domain and thoroughly investigated.
Appreciating the commendable job done by officers of the investigating team, the court wondered why the concerned authorities did not act on the tapes except in the 2G matter, adding that it was accidental matter that the court ordered the transcription of the Radia tapes.
Having said this, the court asked why the Income Tax Department did not transcribe it.
In an apparent reference to a top bureaucrat who had joined a private organisation after being in a pivotal position in the telecom department, the court asked “what happens when people having access to classified government information become the employees of private organisations”.
“What is the protection of classified information? If there are allurements prior to demitting office, the person can spoil everything by his manipulations,” asked Justice Singhvi.
The court said: “We will direct a thorough investigation into all these issues.”
As court indicated its intent to order thorough probe, Additional Solicitor General Paras Kuhad told the court the investigating agency would abide by the order of the court on further investigation.
Seeking that all the transcripts of the Radia tapes except for those which were very personal in nature be made public, counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that they concerned the public as they expose governmental functioning.
Appearing for NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), Bhushan said the Radia tapes gave an unprecedented window on how the government was run and how decisions are arrived at.
Asking the court to frame some guidelines, Bhushan said there was no law to protect whistle blowers and the Central Vigilance Commissioner was nodal officer in such matters.
CPIL has sought directions to place these transcripts, which show some illegality or criminality, in public domain and thoroughly investigated.
The hearing would continue Thursday when Additional Solicitor General A.S. Chandiok will respond to Bhushan’s submissions.