Preliminary inquiries have revealed that the controversial Radia tapes were brought into the public domain by top executives of a business house currently under probe in the 2G spectrum scam.
The trail of the leaked tapes leads to a top income tax official originally in possession of the recorded conversations between corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, her clients, politicians, journalists and officials. A Delhi-based chartered accountant (CA) and a broker then reportedly got hold of the tapes from another official who now occupies a top position in the income tax hierarchy.
The executives, all of them at the top of the hierarchy of the business house currently under the CBI scanner, received the tapes from the CA-broker duo. Numbering three, these executives included a lady who played a role in circulating the tapes that reached select TV channels and print organisations.
HT is withholding the names of the dramatis personae pending conclusions of a two-man inquiry committee set up by the government to trace the leak.
Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata, excerpts of whose conversations with Radia have been reported in the media, has since petitioned the Supreme Court for protection of his right to privacy. He has not questioned the state’s right to tap conversations while pleading that steps be taken by the government to prevent further leaks besides retrieval of tapes in circulation for destruction of recordings of a personal nature.
In response, the court has asked Tata to explain what portions of the conversations he considered a violation of his privacy and for what reasons.
The query apparently is guided by the fact that the petitioner directly approached the apex court by invoking article 32 of the Constitution relating to protection of fundamental rights.
Right to privacy isn’t expressly mentioned in the chapter on fundamental rights. But several case laws interpret right to privacy as being integral to the constitutional right to life and liberty.
The Tata Group chairman’s contention has been contested by a magazine that published his and other people’s telephonic talks with Radia — triggering a major debate on corporate influence in governmental affairs — on the ground that he was seeking to convert a personal petition into public interest litigation by raising the larger issue of the functioning of the media.