The income tax department Tuesday denied leaking tapped phone conversations between Niira Radia and several individuals — including politicians, industrialists and journalists — to the media and submitted a report to the Supreme Court, the contents of which prompted the SC to observe the published transcripts may have been doctored.
The department said a probe was on to ascertain whether the leak took place at the “service provider” end.
Additional solicitor general Indira Jaisingh placed the confidential report before a bench of justice GS Singhvi and justice SJ Mukopadhaya. After perusing the report, the bench told Mukul Rohatgi, counsel for Ratan Tata, that the call logs recorded by the I-T department did not match the ones put up on the website of a media organisation.
Reading an extract from the report, the bench added that it was possible the phones were being tapped by more than one agency. "According to them (I-T department), at a time a particular number can be tapped by seven to eight different agencies, including the service provider."
The court said I-T officials had denied any knowledge of who was behind the leak. "It is quite possible someone else has done it," it added, adjourning the case.
The bench was hearing Tata's petition seeking a probe into how did his "private conversations" with the former corporate lobbyist were leaked. Tata had also sought action to stop publication of the conversations. But the government had maintained it was not possible to do this.
The government had later claimed Radia's phones were tapped following a complaint accusing her of anti-national activities and of acting as a spy for foreign intelligence agencies. The complaint said Radia had built a Rs 300-crore business empire within just nine years. The government had said the surveillance was ordered by the directorate general of income tax (investigation) and had given details of conversations recorded for 180 days between August 20, 2008 and May 11, 2009.