“There should be some sanctity and dignity to court proceedings,” Salve told a bench headed by G S Singhvi. What a particular Delhi-based newspaper did was a complete “affront” to the sanctity of the proceedings, he said, without naming the newspaper.
He asked the court to take action against the newspaper. Salve said though the additional solicitor general had given an undertaking to the court that he would take responsibility for the confidentiality of the report, even after 10 days of the leak, the government hadn’t acted to find out the source of the leak. Tata’s petition wasn’t for himself, he said; the issue raised was far more important.
A Tata Sons spokesperson said, “Ratan Tata has filed this writ petition on a matter of principle. He believes privacy is an important right for every individual. He is keenly following the progress of this case.”
The questions raised by Prashant Bhushan, counsel for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, raise the issues of the ownership pattern of the media and the coverage of corporate tussles. Some audit of the interest of the public and the right to privacy were required, he said. Bhushan wants the report to be published in the public interest. He has sought action against those involved in the criminal conspiracy revealed in the tapes.
Justice Singhvi said the leak of the confidential report had put “everyone in the shadows”; whoever handled the files had become suspect. He added the rule of law should be maintained and those who were guilty should pay the price.
Salve said though the Telegraph Act permitted snooping, it was circumscribed by several conditions. Therefore, the government should have maintained strict control over the surveillance ordered by then finance minister P Chidambaram.
The conversations between Tata and Radia were part of the transcripts carried by magazines and websites in 2010. These ran into 5,800 pages and covered 180 days spread over 2008 and 2009.