New Delhi, Oct. 17: The Supreme Court today directed the CBI to probe certain conversations in the Niira Radia tapes, saying “prima facie” it was “of the view that influential persons have indulged in corrupt practices for private gains”.
“After scrutinising the transcripts and various other aspects, we are prima facie of the view that there is a deep-rooted malice by private enterprises to act in connivance with government officials and Niira Radia’s conversations suggest the influential persons have indulged in corrupt practices for private gains and for other extraneous purposes,” a bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and Y. Gopala Gowda said.
“Hence, we direct the CBI to conduct a probe on these issues… and submit a report within two months,” the court added.
The judges ordered a probe into six issues related to the alleged corrupt practices, giving the CBI a list of case numbers from the tapes. The bench did not spell out the issues.
However, it referred one matter, which reportedly pertains to the judiciary, to Chief Justice P. Sathasivam to pass appropriate orders.
It referred another issue to the chief vigilance officer of the mines department.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing on December 16. Justice Singhvi retires on December 12.
The court also expanded the special team of sleuths analysing the transcripts by including 10 more income-tax sub-inspectors. It had formed the team — earlier made up of six officers drawn from the CBI and the income-tax department — this February to scrutinise the voluminous tapes to “find out” whether there was an “element of criminality” in them.
The tapes relate to phone conversations Radia had over 180 days with politicians, industrialists and some mediapersons. They were recorded by the income-tax department between August 2008 and May 2009 as part of a surveillance following a complaint that the corporate lobbyist had established a business worth Rs 300 crore with no known credible source of income.
Today’s order followed apex court hearings over several days, including “in camera” proceedings on August 29 on some aspects of the tapes. Earlier, the bench had said the scrutiny of the tapes had revealed they were not restricted to the 2G controversy but also threw light on different spheres.
On August 22, the court had directed the Centre to place before it minutes of the purported meeting chaired by the then Union home secretary in 2008 where the formal decision to tap Radia’s phone was taken.
The income-tax department later placed transcripts of over 5,800 tapped telephone conversations in sealed envelopes to the court.