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October 6, 1997


Tatas refuse to comment; Nani Palkhivala calls transcripts 'unsubstantiated'

The Tatas have refused to comment on the allegation that Tata Tea manager Brojen Gogoi was staying at a Tata guesthouse in Calcutta even as the management had been insisting that it was unaware of Gogoi's whereabouts.

Despite repeated calls by Rediff On The NeT to Bombay House, the Tata Group headquarters, there was no company reaction to the transcripts of the tapped telephone conversations published in The Indian Express.

However, Nani Palkhivala, chairman emeritus of ACC and a Tata Sons director, said the reports were only unsubstantiated allegations and not facts. While refusing to dwell at length, saying that would be done at the appropriate level, the eminent jurist pointed out that not only was telephone tapping illegal, but that it was normally not admissible in a court of law as evidence.

"Anyone can simulate a person's voice and then attribute statements to that person," Palkhivala said. "People should be careful before believing what they read. One should not trust everything that appears in print."

Mahindra & Mahindra chairman Keshub Mahindra, whose conversation with Bombay Dyeing chairman Nusli Wadia was among the ones published, is at present in London and unavailable for comment. Nor was there any reaction from his company.

Nusli Wadia has, however, threatened to sue The Indian Express, stating that tapping his phone was illegal and a criminal offence. Wadia said the conversations were private ones between friends, and tapping them were an invasion of his privacy.

meanwhile, the business community across the country is shocked at the alleged tapping of telephones. In a statement, the Confederation of Indian Industry said the phone-tapping incident would have an adverse effect on the psyche of corporates, which in turn would demoralise businessmen.

The CII said the confidence level of businessmen was already at its lowest ebb. ''The phone tapping will erode morale and business confidence adding to the atmosphere of mistrust and insecurity.''

PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Binay Kumar said, ''Investigative journalism does not mean encroaching upon an individual's privacy.'' He said businessmen have to consult each other on certain confidential issues and their privacy must be protected.

L Lakshman, alternate president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said an inquiry into the incident has become all the more necessary in the context of the government's denial of involvement of any official agency.

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Assam govt expresses concern

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Assam govt alleges Tata Tea had tacit deal with ULFA
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Gujral did not meet Ratan Tata; Dogra remanded to 14 days judicial custody
Assam police arrest Tata Tea GM Dogra for nexus with ULFA
Union home ministry denies interfering in Tata Tea case
Tata Tea denies charges of nexus with ULFA
Tata Tea officials probed on alleged nexus with ULFA

The Lost Children Of India

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