Not satisfied with probe into Radia tapes leakage: Tata to SC

Senior advocate Harish Salve argued that only those tapes should have been preserved which were the subject matter of the order pertaining to the interception and the rest should have been destroyed

New Delhi: Tata chief Ratan Tata today told the Supreme Court that he was not satisfied with the "lackadaisical approach" of the government in investigating the leakage of the tapes of telephonic conversation of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with him and others, reports PTI.

"There has to be a comprehensive inquiry into it. My concern is that government is not giving serious consideration and attention to the issue," senior advocate Harish Salve told a bench comprising justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly.

He said the government should have been concerned when the transcripts of the recorded conversation between Ms Radia and others were published in the media for the first time on 28th April, last year.

"The government should have been extremely concerned on 28 April 2010 as to how this got in the media and how it was leaked?" Mr Salve said.

He said that the contents of the CD became public even before it was annexed with the petition filed by an NGO CPIL before the apex court.

"The government must have and should have ordered an inquiry when the trouble started on 28th April," he contended.

He also accused the government of preserving all the contents of the recorded conversation which was intercepted by the Income Tax department.

He argued that only those tapes should have been preserved which were the subject matter of the order pertaining to the interception and the rest should have been destroyed.

"Something which is not required as per the order is to be destroyed immediately," he said.

Mr Salve further contended that what has to be preserved and used by the government agency was the "class of messages" which must relate to the subject for which the order for interception was given.

He said during the course of interception, all types of private talk which infringed upon the privacy of the person should have been destroyed.

"They (agencies) are not entitled to have entire materials recorded during the course of time," he said.

The court was hearing the petition filed by Mr Tata seeking to stop any further publication of the contents of the conversation between Ms Radia and others, including him. He has also sought thorough inquiry into the leakage of the tapes.

Mr Tata has been contending that making public the contents of his private conversation violates his fundamental right to privacy, linked to his Right to Life and Liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.


No question of PMO being asked to approve Antrix deal: PM

Intervening during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, prime minister Manmohan Singh stated that the deal to allocate transponder frequencies to Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd never came to the PMO for approval

New Delhi: Seeking to clear the air on the controversy over allocation of S-band spectrum, prime minister Manmohan Singh today said the deal to allocate transponder frequency on two satellites to the Indian arm of a US company never came to his office for approval, reports PTI.

"There is no question of Prime Minister's Office (PMO) being asked to approve the deal. It never came to that level," Mr Singh said.

He was intervening during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha when opposition members sought to know who in the PMO was responsible for approving the deal between Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd (the Indian arm of Forge Advisors of US) and Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of ISRO.

Antrix, he said, is a commercial arm of ISRO and in normal course its deal with Devas does not go to the government for approval.

Only the launch of satellite "did come to the Cabinet," he said. But the Devas-Antrix deal "was not mentioned in the Cabinet note."

Minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office V Narayanasamy said Antrix Corp Ltd, set up by the Department of Space in 1992, had signed an agreement with Devas in January 2005 for leasing part of the space segment capacity in S-band on two geostationary satellites.

The agreement details the terms and conditions under which part of the transponder capacity of these satellites will be made available to Devas for 12 years.

This was as per the Satellite Communications Policy Framework for India approved by Cabinet in June 1997 which authorised INSAT capacity to be leased to non-governmental parties.

The norms, guidelines and procedures for implementation of this policy were approved by Cabinet in January 2000.

"These provided for entering into bilateral agreements with other agencies for marketing this capacity," he said.

He said in order to catalyse digital multimedia services in India for which ground segment technology was evolving then in a very few developed countries, Antrix signed a MoU with Forge Advisors of USA in July 2003.

Subsequently, Forge promoted an Indian company called Devas with whom the Antrix entered into the agreement in January 2005 for lease of S-band transponder capacity in two satellites.

He said the allocation of S-band spectrum was pointed out in December 2009. The Space Commission annulled the agreement when it was felt that S-band was required for defence, paramilitary forces and societal purposes. Subsequently, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) too annulled the deal.

"If any wrong (has been) done, the prime minister will take action," Mr Narayanasamy said. "When it came to knowledge of the government, immediate action was taken."

He said a high-powered committee is looking into any irregularity in allocation of S-band and action will be taken against the guilty.

As per the agreement, Devas was required to pay to Antrix upfront capacity reservation fee of $40 million and lease charges of $18 million per year for S-band transponders.

Opposition members were not satisfied by the minister's response and continued to raise the issue of scarce spectrum being allocated to private party at throw away price.

Chairman Hamid Ansari asked members to allow Question Hour to proceed and said if they wanted a discussion on the subject they should give notice.


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