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New Delhi: Former Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata's counsel on Friday mounted a severe attack in the Supreme Court on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the media for "unabated leaks" based on untested transcripts of former lobbyist Niira Radia's tapes. This, the counsel said, was damaging the reputation of several people
Tata counsel Harish Salve said the leaks were from the CBI. Through months, the government hadn't done anything to locate the source of the leaks, he added, seeking an inquiry into this. He assailed the role of the media, naming Open magazine and The Indian Express newspaper, saying the latter showed the "worst form of disrespect to the court".
Salve said the leaks were machinations of a corporate rival, probably in the telecom sector, and these publications "augurs anarchy". Investigating agencies were using the media to "embarrass" people, he said, adding this was a dangerous trend that shouldn't be allowed to go unchallenged.
The Tata counsel said excluding the parts relevant to criminal investigations, the tapes should be destroyed. These shouldn't be used for gossip in magazines and kept as "dynamite to be triggered at the appropriate time", he told a bench headed by G Singhvi.
The media wasn't above the law, he said, adding if it wanted to verify information brought to it, it should use the Right to Information Act, instead of publishing unauthorised material. Merely because the material was before the court, it didn't come into the public domain, he said.
However, layers of media organisations and Prashant Bhushan, counsel for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, argued the publication served public purpose and once material was presented to the court, it was in the public domain.
The court would hear the replies of government and media layers next week.