The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the CBI to file a status report on the investigation into intercepted conversations of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud was hearing a plea filed by industrialist Ratan Tata seeking protection of right to privacy in view of the emergence of the Radia tapes.
”We will have it after the vacations as there is a Constitution Bench next week. Meanwhile, the CBI may file an updated status report,” said the bench also comprising Justices Hima Kohli and P S Narasimha.
The matter is posted for next hearing on October 12. Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, submitted that the petition may be disposed of in the light of the right to privacy judgment of the apex court.
The apex court in 2017 has unanimously delivered its judgment in Justice (retd) K.S. Puttaswamy case, holding that privacy is a constitutionally protected right.
”I must inform you that the CBI was directed by your lordship to investigate all these conversations. Fourteen preliminary inquiries were registered and the report was placed before your lordships in a sealed cover. No criminality was found in those. Also, now there are phone-tapping guidelines in place,” Bhati said.
At the outset, the counsel, appearing for Tata, sought an adjournment. Bhati said nothing remains in the matter after the privacy judgment.
The counsel for the petitioner informed the apex court that there is another petition filed by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), which had sought that these transcripts be made public in the larger public interest.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the CPIL, said Radia was a corporate lobbyist for two of the most important companies and there were attempts to influence public persons etc. which was revealed.
The top court was hearing Tata’s petition seeking action against those involved in the leakage of the tapes alleging the leakage amounts to infringement of his fundamental right to life, which includes the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.
He had contended that as corporate lobbyist Radia’s phone was tapped for probing alleged tax evasion and the tapes cannot be used for any other purpose.