New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India on Thursday asked industry lobby group Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) to comply with an Andhra Pradesh district court order to deposit documents related to the tapping of phones in sealed covers.

The cash-for-votes scandal allegedly involving Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and the related telephone tapping controversy involving his counterpart K. Chandrasekhar Rao, the chief minister of Telangana, is now being played out in the apex court.

After TV channels aired a sting operation featuring a phone call, allegedly between Naidu and a member of the Telangana assembly, the Andhra CM’s Telugu Desam Party has claimed that: the voice is not his; that his previous conversations have been edited to construct the one aired; and that his and the phones of other party leaders were being tapped by the Telangana government.

On 7 July, a lower court in Andhra Pradesh had asked the telecom service providers to submit details of correspondence with the Telangana government and numbers being targeted for tapping in sealed covers.

The Telangana government had threatened to sue the COAI under the Official Secrets Act, if they released these documents, lawyer L. Nageswara Rao, representing COAI, told the apex court.

A bench comprising justices Vikramajit Sen and S.K. Singh said that they understood the seriousness of the problem and allowed all the parties involved in the issue to approach the Hyderabad high court, as and when required.

Nageswara Rao and lawyer K.K. Venugopal, also representing the telcos, said that the Telangana government had issued notices to the lobby for violating rules. They said that the telcos weren’t taking sides. The court noted in its order that the telecom service providers were “not averse to producing the documents, but are at an impasse because of the conflicting opinions" of the central government, the Andhra Pradesh court order and the Telangana government.