Tata seeks Radia tape probe report
Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata on Wednesday faced some tough questions in the Supreme Court on his petition, which sought a direction to the Centre for disclosure of the inquiry report into the leakage of the controversial tapes containing conversations of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with him and others.
A Bench comprising Justice G S Singhvi and Justice S J Mukhopadhaya asked senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for Tata, as to how he could seek a copy of the report as the petition filed had only sought an inquiry into the leakage of the tapped conversation.
“You are enlarging your prayer by filing an application seeking contents of the probe report,” the Bench said. “The government itself is making an inquiry and the report will be placed before us,” the Bench added.
Rohtagi, however, said that it was necessary to see the findings of the report as his entire arguments would be based on it.
“My entire arguments will be on the basis of the report. It is clear that there is leakage of conversation tapped by the government, but it is not clear which agency or officials are responsible for it. It is necessary to know how it was done to prevent such leakage in future,” the counsel stated.
“The intercepted phone calls are a property of the government and their disclosure is violation of my right to privacy. I am entitled to know how it was leaked. I am not interested in claiming damages. I want to ensure that such lackadaisical approach is not taken by the government in future,” he added.
Rohtagi said that “The right to privacy is given by law. I don’t have to claim it. My whole case is on privacy. The rules encompass it. My rights are violated by this government,” he stated.
He said, “Whenever there is an infraction of my right, I’ve a right to come to court. It is not just a case of A Vs B when a phone talk is intercepted. The third party rights also have to be taken care of,” he argued.
“I only say that my rights of privacy were breached by the government. Every talk I had with this lady (Niira Radia) is private,” he asserted.
“I bring to the notice of the court the wanton tapping that is going on in this country. This should be an eye-opener,” Rohtagi felt.
“They claim top secrecy. Today we’ve the RTI Act. There are some exemptions, but even these exemptions can be overruled by the Information Commissioner,” Rohtagi said.
“We are moving more and more in the direction of transparency. And we are going back to the idea of privilege,” he pointed out.
When the court was about to rise, Justice Singhvi told Rohatgi, “You are going much beyond the scope of your petition. Arguments will continue on Thursday.”
Ratan Tata had moved the apex court in November 2010 and sought restraint on the publication of the tapped conversation between him and Radia, a corporate lobbyist.