Govt to SC: Tata-Radia tapes leak being probed

Government says it views the tapes matter seriously and that there is no question of it adopting a lackadaisical attitude on the issue 

New Delhi:  The government has told the Supreme Court that it is taking seriously the matter of leaked tapes of conversations between Tata chief Ratan Tata and corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and that it has ordered an inquiry into the issue.

"The government views the disclosure of such information seriously and in this context an inquiry has been ordered," the government said in an affidavit filed before the court.

It also denied the allegation of Tata that it had adopted a lackadaisical attitude on the petition by Tata. "I deny that the government has adopted a lackadaisical attitude or that it was standing by and allowing leaked material of this kind to be freely distributed and published," it said in a two-page affidavit filed by the additional director of income tax (investigations).

The affidavit also stated that through an office memorandum issued on 27 December 2010, the Ministry of Finance had appointed two senior officers to inquire into the leak of such "classified documents/telephonic intercepts".

"The terms of reference of the inquiry committee are detailed and comprehensive, and reflect the concern of the Ministry of Finance to properly investigate the matter, and to take a comprehensive view of the subject," the government said. It is not correct on the part of Tata to allege that it is its perception that the leakage of such material and its consequential publication were not a matter of concern.

"It is not suggested by the government that it is under no duty to ensure that the wire tapped material is not leaked," the affidavit said.


SC: CAG cannot be only basis for cancellation of spectrum

Judges make remarks during hearing of petitions on 2G spectrum matter by Centre for Public Interest Litigation and Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today made it clear that the CAG report could not be the only basis for cancellation of licenses for 2G spectrum and that any decision taken by the government on this issue would be subject to the outcome of the petitions pending before it.

"Everything they (government) do after filing of the petition, is subject to the outcome of the petitions," a bench comprising Judges GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly said. "We do not know what they are doing. But if they do, it is subject to the outcome of our order."

The judges made these remarks while considering a petition by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), seeking to restrain the government from regularising the license of the telecom companies which failed to meet the roll-out obligations, reports PTI.

The court is also hearing another petition by Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy, seeking the cancellation of 2G licenses allotted during the tenure of former telecom minister A Raja, on the ground that there were large-scale irregularities in the allocation process.

The court has posted the hearing on the petitions for 1st March.

Mr Bhushan submitted that CPIL had listed five reasons why the 2G licences should be cancelled. He said that the spectrum was allocated without auction at the price prevailing in 2001 and the cut-off date was advanced which resulted in the elimination of two-thirds of the applicants.

Further, 85 out of 122 entities were ineligible operators and 69 of them failed to meet their roll-out obligations, Mr Bhushan said. The bench said all these factors will be considered at the time of hearing.


Exports in December up 36.4%, highest in 33 months

Expressing confidence, commerce secretary Rahul Khullar had said that India's exports would touch $215-$225 billion during the current fiscal

New Delhi: India's exports in December 2010 rose by 36.4% to $22.5 billion, up from $16.4 billion in the corresponding month of the previous month. The December export figure is the highest in the last 33 months, reports PTI quoting government data.

However, imports contracted by 11.1% to $25.13 billion over the same period last year, resulting in a narrow trade deficit of $2.6 billion, according to commerce ministry data released today.

During the nine-month period between April and December 2010, the country's outbound shipments grew by 29.5% to $164.7 billion from $127.1 billion in the same period last year, the data said.

Imports, too, increased by 19% to $246.7 billion during the first nine months of the current fiscal from $207.3 billion in the same period last year. The trade gap during the April-December period stood at $82 billion.

Expressing confidence, commerce secretary Rahul Khullar had said that India's exports would touch $215-$225 billion during the current fiscal.


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