New Delhi, Sept. 6: The Supreme Court today expressed unhappiness at the way the government has so far probed the Niira Radia tapes and asked the head of the tax department’s investigative wing to submit transcripts of the controversial recordings within two months.
A bench had earlier asked that transcripts of the 5,800-odd tapes be provided in a hard disk to the court for safekeeping.
Today, Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhyay said the director-general (investigation) of the tax department must transcribe the tapes and hand over the transcripts in a sealed cover.
The court voiced its displeasure at the government’s stand that it had analysed only those portions that were required for investigating the telecom scam.
“Only that portion that was required was analysed and the analysis handed over to the CBI,” additional solicitor-general A.S. Chandhiok had told the bench, which is hearing two petitions.
One of the petitions, by industrialist Ratan Tata, has sought the court’s intervention to establish accountability for the leak of private conversations. The other, by the NGO CPIL, wants all the tapes, except those purely personal, to be made public.
The bench wondered how the review committee, supposed to oversee whether the tapes should be retained for further investigation or be destroyed within the mandated 60 days, could review the tapes without the transcripts.
“Unless transcripts were done, how could the committee have exercised its powers?” the bench said.
The court also sought to know whether the tax department’s investigations into the tapes were over. The department said they were still on.
In November 2009, the tax department had handed the tapes over to the CBI in connection with the 2G probe. But after some of these tapes were leaked, the top court had asked the CBI to seal the tapes and hand them over for safekeeping.
“Three years have since passed,” Justice Singhvi said. “What has happened?”
The bench, which has acknowledged Tata’s concerns that the government violated his privacy, had last week hauled the Centre over the coals for its alleged failure to prevent the leak.