Writ Petition (Civil) Nos. 398 of 2010 and 16 of 2011 (Under Article 32 of the Constitution of India). Case: Ratan N. Tata Vs Union of India (UOI) and Ors.. Supreme Court (India)

Case NumberWrit Petition (Civil) Nos. 398 of 2010 and 16 of 2011 (Under Article 32 of the Constitution of India)
CounselFor Appearing Parties: Paras Kuhad, ASG, L.N. Rao and Mukul Gupta, Sr. Advs., Prateek Jalan, Ruby Singh Ahuja, Deepti Sarin, Anisha Mitra, Manik Karanjawala, Prashant Bhushan, Pranav Sachdeva, Ritesh Kumar, Padma Lakshmi Nigam, Chetan Chawla, T.A. Khan, Tara Narula, Jitin Chaturvedi, Aman Ahluwalia, Nisha Bhambhani, Apurv Chandola, Ajay ...
JudgesG.S. Singhvi and V. Gopala gowda, JJ.
IssueCable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995; Information Technology Act, 2000; Constitution of India - Article 32; Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC); Indian Penal Code 1860, (IPC)
Citation2013 (13) SCALE 201, 2014 (1) SCC 93
Judgement DateOctober 17, 2013
CourtSupreme Court (India)


G.S. Singhvi, J.

  1. On receipt of a complaint by the Finance Minister that Ms. Nira Radia, who was an agent of foreign intelligence agency and was indulging in anti national activities and had built up a business empire of Rs. 300 crores within a period of nine years, a decision was taken that the matter needs to be probed. When the complaint reached the Director General of Income Tax (Investigation) [DG (IT)], Delhi, he mooted a proposal for surveillance of telephone lines of Ms. Nira Radia and her associates. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) forwarded the proposal to the Home Secretary, Government of India, who granted the required permission. Between 19.8.2008 and 9.7.2009, many such proposals were submitted to the Union Home Secretary and he accorded the necessary permission from time to time. In the first phase, the surveillance lasted for 120 days. In the second phase, the surveillance lasted for about 60 days.

  2. After four months of the cessation of surveillance, DG (IT) sent letter dated 16.11.2009 to Director, Intelligence Bureau informing that analysis of the intercept suggested that some conversations were quite sensitive. He also informed about this to CBDT. On the same day, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sent a communication to DG (IT) and asked for information relating to surveillance done on the telephone lines of Ms. Nira Radia. After some correspondence, DG (IT) sent copies of the recording to CBI. On 20.5.2010, copy of the recordings consisting of 5800 calls of Ms. Radia for the period from 20.8.2008 to 9.7.2009 was handed over to CBI.

  3. In August, 2010, Centre for Public Interest Litigation filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court for ordering a Court monitored investigation by CBI or a special investigating team in what was termed as "2G Spectrum Scam" for unearthing the role of the then Union Minister for Department of Tele Communications, senior officers of that Department, middlemen, businessmen and others. The writ petition was dismissed by the Division Bench of the High Court. The special leave petition filed against the order of the High Court was entertained by this Court and converted into Civil Appeal No. 10660/2010. After hearing the parties, the Court passed order dated 16.12.2010, the operative

    (i) CBI shall conduct thorough investigation into various issues highlighted in the report of the Central Vigilance Commission, which was forwarded to the Director, CBI vide letter dated 12-10-2009 and the report of the CAG, who have prima facie found serious irregularities in the grant of licences to 122 applicants, majority of whom are said to be ineligible, the blatant violation of the terms and conditions of licences and huge loss to the public exchequer running into several thousand crores. CBI should also probe how licences were granted to large number of ineligible applicants and who was responsible for the same and why TRAI and DoT did not take action against those licensees who sold their stakes/equities for many thousand crores and also against those who failed to fulfil rollout obligations and comply with other conditions of licence.

    (ii) CBI shall conduct the investigation without being influenced by any functionary, agency or instrumentality of the State and irrespective of the position, rank or status of the person to be investigated/probed.

    (iii) CBI shall, if it has already not registered first information report in the context of the alleged irregularities committed in the grant of licences from 2001 to 2006-2007, now register a case and conduct thorough investigation with particular emphasis on the loss caused to the public exchequer and corresponding gain to the licensees/service providers and also on the issue of allowing use of dual/alternate technology by some service providers even before the decision was made public vide press release dated 19-10-2007.

    (iv) CBI shall also make investigation into the allegation of grant of huge loans by the public sector and other banks to some of the companies which have succeeded in obtaining licences in 2008 and find out whether the officers of DoT were signatories to the loan agreement executed by the private companies and if so, why and with whose permission they did so.

    (v) The Directorate of Enforcement/agencies concerned of the Income Tax Department shall continue their investigation without any hindrance or interference by anyone.

    (vi) Both the agencies i.e. CBI and the Directorate of Enforcement shall share information with each other and ensure that the investigation is not hampered in any manner whatsoever.

    (vii) The Director General, Income Tax (Investigation) shall, after completion of analysis of the transcripts of the recording made pursuant to the approval accorded by the Home Secretary, Government of India, hand over the same to CBI to facilitate further investigation into the FIR already registered or which may be registered hereinafter.

  4. In November, 2010 some news magazines published portions of the conversation which Ms. Radia had with politicians, corporates, lobbyists, bureaucrats and journalists. Shri Ratan Tata, whose name figured in some of these publications filed Writ Petition No. 398/2010 under Article 32 of the Constitution with the following prayers:

    (a) Issue a writ of mandamus and/or any other suitable writ order or direction under Article 32 of the...

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