The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into eight issues arising from the tapped phone conversations corporate lobbyist, Niira Radia had with top politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists.
The report on the criminal aspects of the talks will be given to the court within two months and the case will be heard again on December 16. Apart from the CBI, the vigilance wing will probe six cases.
The judges observed during the proceedings that the CBI reports showed “deep-rooted malaise” in the polity. A section of the press has already published detailed reports of the finding of the CBI inquiry, for which it is facing contempt of court action.
“Prima facie, there is a deep rooted malaise by private enterprises in connivance with the government officials and Niira Radia’s conversations suggest that influential persons indulged in corrupt practices for private gains for extraneous purpose,” a bench headed by G S Singhvi said.
The order was passed in two petitions, one moved by industrialist Ratan Tata, and the other by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL).
Tata’s main complaint was infringement of his privacy, but CPIL counsel, Prashant Bhushan, widened the issues to encompass the whole gamut of political and economic sleaze.
The CBI has already informed the court recently that the examination of hundreds of conversations Radia had had over the years showed criminality.
Though the probe started as an income tax investigation, it has branched into several fields like the 2G spectrum scam and fixing of ministers and bureaucrats by industrialists for government largesse. The court has been monitoring the investigations and it culminated in Thursday’s order. However, the present order will lead only to a “preliminary inquiry” in legal parlance and it is still far away from a formal complaint or charge sheet.
CBI is planning to register preliminary inquiries into the Radia tapes-related cases by next week, a senior official said.
Presiding judge Singhvi, who passed several momentous judgments involving corruption, is retiring on December 11, before the CBI report is called for.