Radia tapes’ leak: Government trying to track source

The Supreme Court has been told that the government was doing its utmost to track the source that leaked in public domain the telephone intercepts of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

In an affidavit filed Monday, the government rejected the allegation that it was lackadaisical in its effort to unearth the source that leaked the tapes.

‘The government views the disclosure of such information seriously’ and it has ordered probe by two senior officers to track the source that leaked the telephonic intercepts, said Additional Director of Income Tax (Investigation) Sushil Kumar in his affidavit.

‘It is not correct on the part of the petitioner (Ratan Tata) to allege that it is the perception of the government that leakage of such material and its consequential publication is not a matter of concern,’ the affidavit said.

‘It is not suggested by the government that it is under no duty to ensure that the wire tapped material is not leaked,’ it said.

The matter relates to a petition by the Tata group chairman Ratan Tata seeking to restrain the media from publishing the transcripts of the Radia tapes.

Tata contended that the publication of these tapes could adversely impact Tata group’s business interest and in turn would hurt the common investors.

Radia’s telephones were put under surveillance by the Income Tax department after a complaint was received by the government that Radia was in touch with foreign agencies and had amassed huge wealth in a span of few years.

Tata’s petition on Radia tapes will come up for hearing in theSupreme court Wednesday.

2G scam, Radia tapes, black money cases at Supreme court this week

For the Central Government battling legal cases on sensitive issues, it is a crucial week ahead at the Supreme Court. At least four major legal tangles, riveting the nation’s attention, are slated at the Supreme Court.

The four cases closely followed across the nation are: the 2G spectrum allocation scam, corporate lobbyist Niira Radia’s tapes, appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner P.J. Thomas and black money stashed away in foreign banks.

In the 2G spectrum scam case, the apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly will hear Tuesday the petition of Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy seeking to restrain Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal from allegedly bailing out the telecom operators, who failed in fulfilling their licence related obligations, by imposing fines.

Swamy in his petition said the compounding fee that the telecom ministry was now imposing on telecom operators was miniscule to what the public exchequer would have got if these licences were cancelled and issued afresh.

Swamy has sought the cancellation of the licences on the ground that irregularities were committed in the airwaves allotment in 2008.

In the last hearing Jan 21, the court took exception to Sibal questioning the methodology adopted by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in calculating the loss at Rs.1.78 lakh crore that the exchequer allegedly suffered in allocating the airwaves at below market price.

The court described Sibal’s statement as ‘unfortunate’ and asked him to ‘behave with some sense of responsibility’.

On Wednesday, the bench would take up a petition of Tata Group chairman Rata Tata, who has sought that the court restrain the media from publishing the transcripts of Radia tapes related to the airwaves allocation and other linked matters.

Radia’s phones were tapped by the Income Tax department in the wake of a complaint that she had amassed huge wealth over a short period of a few years.

During the hearing, the court would also hear a petition by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) for a direction to the central government to put in public domain all the 5,800 taped conversations of Radia.

The petition has also sought the court’s direction to the government to frame guidelines to protect whistle-blowers.

The court issued a notice on the CPIL petition Jan 24. The last hearing on Tata’s petition was held Dec 13, 2010.

The bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar would Thursday further hear the CPIL’s petition challenging the appointment of Thomas as the CVC.

On Jan 27, the court asked Attorney General G. Vahanvati whether the process for selecting the corruption watchdog’s chief was vitiated by the withholding of information from the CVC selection committee that a charge sheet was pending in Kerala’s palm oil import case against Thomas.

In the black money case, the attorney general Thursday is likely to furnish the details of the Indian citizens who have stashed away ill-gotten money in foreign banks in tax havens.

The bench of Justice B. Sudershan Reddy and Justice S.S. Nijjar earlier asked the central government to file a comprehensive affidavit giving details of the steps taken against Indian citizens who have stashed ill-gotten money abroad.

Jurist Ram Jethmalani is seeking directions to the government to recover the ill-gotten money kept in foreign banks by Indian citizens.