Ratan Tata calls into question government's motive for tapping Niira Radia's phone

RatanRatan Tata has called into question the motive of the government in tapping Radia's phone as it did not take any action even after possessing information (IE photo)

Former Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata questioned in the Supreme Court on Thursday the government's motive in tapping telephonic conversations of Niira Radia with top politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen including him and suggested it might have been done for political purposes.

Appearing before a bench headed by Justice G M Singhvi, Tata's counsel Harish Salve submitted that every public figure including him has a reasonable expectation of privacy and leakage of his conversation is violation of his fundamental right to privacy.

"The way government has conducted itself is questionable. I do not have doubts in my mind. When they were not interested in probing, then why were the conversations tapped? The government tapped 5,000 hours of conversations and sat on it. You did it for some other purposes. Lots of explosive political matters are in it," he said.

He questioned why the government did not take any action on the basis of tapped conversation which was allegedly done as part of surveillance of Radia's phone on a complaint to the Finance Minister.

"A feeling is inescapable that there were other reasons for tapping the phone but I have no evidence to prove that. It was done in the darkness of night. It is violation of fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution. No government can say that it is powerless to protect rights of the people. You have to take action against the person for violation of rights and officials secret Act," he said.

Salve, who concluded his arguments, said that government's response to the leakage has been 'tongue in cheek'. He maintained that inquiry by the Income Tax department was not sufficient and criminal investigation has to be done to prosecute officers responsible for the leakage.

The senior counsel cited various instances including the case filed by supermodel Naomi Campbell, author J K Rowling and Prince Charles against violation of their privacy by media and pleaded that right to privacy be protected.

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