New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the government to place before it in sealed cover the copy of the complaint on which it started tapping corporate lobbyist Niira Radia’s telephonic conversations with a host of people including politicians, corporate leaders and media personalities.
“The Attorney General may produce the copy of the complaint in a sealed cover,” a bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly said.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Tata group chief Ratan Tata seeking stopping further publication of the leaked conversation between him and Radia.
In an affidavit filed last week, the government had told the apex court that it had begun tapping Radia’s telephone on a complaint that she had built a business empire of Rs300 crore in a short span of nine years.
The complaint also alleged that she was indulging in anti-national activities and was acting as spy of foreign intelligence agencies.
The bench allowed Tata to file a further affidavit and response to the government affidavit on his petition by the first week of January 2011.
The bench said two magazines ‘Open´ and ‘Outlook´ will file their replies within next three weeks and listed the matter for further hearing on 2 February.
Attorney General G E Vahanvati said the CBI will not file affidavit in this matter.
During the brief hearing, senior advocates Anil Divan and Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Outlook and Open magazines respectively, questioned the maintainability of the petition filed by Tata.
Both of them submitted that Tata’s petition was not in public interest and it was rather aimed at protecting his private interest.
Divan said Tata’s writ petition does not even raise any cause of action for being entertained by the court.
He said senior advocate Harish Salve appearing for Tata has raised questions, which do not figure in the petition.
Divan was responding to the submissions made by Salve, who was explaining how the media was run by top industrial houses.
Divan and Dhawan said all these points raised by Salve should be put in an affidavit so that they can file the reply.
Divan said that the freedom of press needs to be zealously guarded.