Radia tapes tampered with: Govt

BJP terms SC verdict second indictment of PM

Radia tapes tampered with: Govt

The UPA government on Tuesday tried to steer clear of the controversy surrounding the Radia tapes claiming that the conversations released by media organizations were tampered with.

In a confidential report, the government told a bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhya that its agencies were not responsible for the leakage of the tapes, published by two magazines.

It also submitted that eight to 10 agencies including the service providers were involved in tapping the telephonic conversation of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with several influential people. The bench, which went through a few pages of the report, said the starting and the end point of the conversation did not match with the original tapes.

Justice Singhvi observed that the report claimed that the officials who were responsible for tapping did not know as to who had leaked the records.

The bench pointed out the discrepancy between the files of the IT department and the media’s publication on tapped conversations. The court also asked the government if other investigating agencies apart from Central Board of Direct Taxes had the sanction to indulge in phone tapping.

The court was hearing a petition filed by top industrialist Ratan Tata on November 29, 2010, seeking action against those involved in the leakage of the tapes, alleging that the action amounted to infringement of his fundamental right, which included his right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Tata had contended Radia’s phone was tapped for alleged tax evasion which could not be used for any other purpose.

Meanwhile, the BJP described the Supreme Court verdict as “second indictment” of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the CVC fiasco, even as the government welcomed the order.

Reacting to the order, BJP spokesman Ravishankar Prasad hoped that after the SC rap, Singh will draw the “right lessons” and not defend any corrupt minister in future.
Speaking for the government, Home Minister P Chidambaram welcomed the court order. “It is a welcome decision,” he said, echoing the statement made by the Prime Minister’s Office which said Singh has been vindicated.

Corporate affairs minister M Veerappa Moily also rejected the views that the verdict was a setback to the government.

Prasad, however, said: “Today’s verdict of the Supreme Court is a severe indictment of the UPA government, particularly the functioning of the PM. The application seeking prosecution of then Telecom Minister A Raja was kept pending for 16 months.”

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi insisted that the court has not passed any strictures or declared any minister guilty and that the saffron party is making too much of it. “No strictures have been passed against any individual, no minister has been found to be corrupt,” Singhvi said.

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