SC: CBI must examine Radia tapes

FP

The Supreme Court Friday said that the CBI needs to carefully examine the content of leaked phone conversations of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia as all of them were "not innocuous".

"We have gone through some of the transcripts of conversations. Some are innocuous but others are not innocuous. This needs to be scrutinised by a team of officers. It cannot be done by us," said a bench led by Justice G S Singhvi. At the last hearing, the court had decided to examine the transcripts itself to ascertain if any "element of criminality" was involved in the conversations and accordingly pass further directions.

"We don't want any mud-slinging. The scrutiny should confine to the issues relating to elements of criminality and administration of justice," the bench said when senior lawyer Harish Salve, appearing for former Tata group chairman Ratan Tata, pointed out that privacy must be maintained since many conversations were personal in nature.

Tata has moved the court for action against those involved in leaking tapes of Radia's conversations with him since it infringed on his fundamental right to life, which includes right to privacy. Another petition in the same case has asked for making the conversations public, claiming that a few leaked ones demonstrated illegalities and the nature of corporate lobbying that affected administration of justice.

The Income-Tax department, which had recorded Radia's conversations over 180 days, has placed transcripts of 5,800 conversations in 50 sealed envelopes in the court.

"There are different aspects of the matter. First question is to segregate the transcripts on the basis of their nature and then we would have to advert upon the criminality, if any, and the consequences," the bench said. "Once a criminality element is ascertained, it will have to go before a court of law. There could also be another set of conversation where there will be no criminality nor they will be personal in nature and we will have to examine them."

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