SC asks why agencies sat over Radia tapes

New Delhi, Aug 7 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday wondered why the agencies that knew about instances of illegalities that surfaced in former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia's tapped phone calls in 2009 did not act for four years.

The court's observation came as it perused the files of the Income Tax Department relating to Radia tapes that gave details of its communication between the Central Bureau of Investigation pointing to wrongdoing and instances of corporates influencing policy changes to suit their interests.

Observing that it was not talking about one issue but on multiple issues on which questionable activities had taken place but they were not looked into and the entire focus was on 2G case.

"It is most surprising that in the first communication they talk of conspiracy...We are unable to understand and appreciate this...," observed an apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice V. Gopala Gowda.

The court said the "material now available is much more than 2G".

As court gave expression to its bewilderment over the inaction of the investigating agencies over the last four years, since they were in the know of the content of the tapes, counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that "some conversations are in public domain since 2010. Some show apparent criminality. Action could have been taken".

Appearing for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, Bhushan said that it clearly showed that "persons involved are so powerful that no one wants to take action".

The issue surfaced after Radia phones were put under surveillance by the Income Tax department.

Radia's phones were put under surveillance by the Income Tax department after the finance ministry Nov 16, 2007 received an anonymous letter alleging that in a short span of few years she had built a business house of Rs.300 crore. The complaint had also alleged foreign connections of Radia.

The Income Tax department put Radia's phone under surveillance thrice for 60 days each between 2008-09.

While petitioner industrialist Ratan Tata has moved the court seeking to cap the tapes, the CPIL has sought direction to make these tapes public except for the portion which was private in nature.

The CPIL said that contents of the tapes revealed how decision making process in the government was influenced by the powerful people.

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