The apex court was annoyed that in such a 'serious matter' the IT department has not prepared the transcript of all the intercepted calls
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the income tax (IT) department, which had intercepted 5,800 telephone conversations of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, to get them transcribed within two months for a proper probe as some of them concern national security, reports PTI.
The court was annoyed that in such a 'serious matter' the IT department has not prepared the transcript of all the intercepted calls, some of which relate to 'dubious' fiscal transactions having impact on national security.
A Bench of justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhaya expressed unhappiness over the fact the probe into the incident was moving on the basis of the 'analysis' of the transcript provided by the income tax department to the CBI.
When Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval made it clear that the transcript of the entire 5,800 intercepted conversations of Radia was not done, the bench said "it will be appropriate that conversation should be transcribed. Otherwise everything will proceed on the basis of surmises and conjectures."
The court directed the Directorate General of Income Tax (Investigation), who had ordered the tapping of phones of Radia and constituted a team of officers for the job, to get the conversation transcribed and submit complete compilation of conversation within two months in a sealed cover," the bench said.
The bench passed the order after going through the summary of the probe provided by the Government and the fresh status reports into the investigation filed in sealed covers by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate.
During the hearing, the bench termed as "vague" the reply of another Additional Solicitor General A S Chandhiok that the probe was on into the leakage of the recorded conversation of Radia with Tata Group Chief Ratan Tata and others.
It said three years have gone and the IT department has not prepared the transcripts of the tapped conversation.
"You (Income tax department) should not have taken three years," the bench said adding that the authorities should understand that in law they have to prepare the transcripts as electronic evidence in its original form only was not permitted.
"There were 5,800 conversations recorded. Where is the transcript of the conversations," the bench asked.
It stressed the need for preparing the transcript as a safeguard against rumours about the leakage which will continue to circulate as people are interested in sensationalism.
"Since certain intercepted conversations concern national security and there are some about the fiscal transactions which are dubious, so much needs to be done," the bench observed.
"It is a much more serious matter," the bench emphasised and said "it will be appropriate that all recordings are transcribed".
The conversations were recorded as part of surveillance of Radia's phone on a complaint to Finance Minister on 16 November 2007 alleging that within a span of nine years she had built up a business empire worth Rs300 crore.
The government had recorded 180 days of Radia's conversations--first from 20 August 2008 onwards for 60 days and then from 19th October for another 60 days. Later on 11 May 2009. Her phone was again put on surveillance for another 60 days following a fresh order given on 8th May.
Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata had moved the apex court on 29 November 2010 for action against those involved in the leakage of the tapes saying that the leakage amounted to infringement of his fundamental right to life, which includes right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), has also sought a direction that all conversation should be made public except those which are purely personal in nature.
The NGO has said the conversation which show illegality or criminality should be thoroughly investigated.
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Flagging the surge in bad assets levels and requests for loan restructuring, Anand Sinha, deputy governor of the RBI said there is urgent need for banks to improve their credit management systems
Mumbai: There is an urgent need to beef up the credit management systems at banks as the lingering global economic turmoil and domestic growth concerns have increased downside risks to financial stability which is evident from rising bad assets, warned Reserve Bank of India (RBI) deputy governor Anand Sinha on Thursday, reports PTI.
"Deteriorating asset quality of banks can be contained by substantially upgrading their credit management systems," Sinha said in his address on the concluding day at the three-day FICCI-IBA banking summit here.
Though Sinha was quick to add that the domestic financial system remains robust, as per the RBI stress tests, he said, "The downside risks to financial stability have worsened due to several global and domestic factors. Our banks are no doubt strong, but there are many challenges we have to live with."
Flagging the surge in bad assets levels and requests for loan restructuring, the deputy Governor said, "NPA levels are higher than what they were a while back. So there is definitely a stress in the system. The amount of restructured assets has gone up. Restructured assets, whether you call it standard or sub-standard, the fact is that even if they are standard, they represent stress in the system," he told reporters later.
While the overall bad assets in the system rose to 5.7% in FY12, from 4.2% a year ago, the quantum of restructured loans is set to cross Rs2 trillion by the end of this fiscal.
Listing out the challenges before the domestic banks, Sinha said the immediate challenge facing the banks is arresting the deteriorating asset quality, while the mid-to-long term challenge is to raise capital to meet the Basel III norms.
"Overall improvement in the risk management systems, upgrading technological platforms and building up of specialised skills in the banking system are the challenges which will distinguish the more successful ones from the others. It is important that competitive pressures are not allowed to override basic prudence," Sinha warned.
Opening the event on Tuesday, Governor Duvvuri Subbarao had pegged the overall capital needs, including non-core capital, of the banks at Rs5 trillion, out of which the state-run banks, which control over 70% of the system, need a whopping Rs90,000 crore from the government in fresh core capital.
Considering the precarious finances of the government, the Governor had suggested that the government could bring down its stake below the mandated 51% in banks which would bring down the Basel III burden to Rs70,000 crore on the government.
Later addressing the media, Sinha said there are more downside risks on the macroeconomic front as the growth has slowed down partly because of the world situation.
On the global front, he said one of the most important challenges he sees in the days to come is the exit from the accommodative policies adopted since the 2008 crisis management phase and to ensure that financial imbalances which led to the present crisis, don't build up again.
The comments came on a day when the European Central Bank announced renewed bond purchases to help boost the sagging Eurozone economies and the US Fed is almost certain to announce the third round monetary booster to the American economy next week.