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Phone tapping case: SC notice to Amar Singh
February 07, 2008 18:56 IST
The Amar Singh phone tapping controversy on Thursday took a new twist with the Supreme Court issuing notice to Samajwadi Party General Secretary as to why contempt proceedings be not initiated against him for entering into conversation allegedly undermining the judiciary.
The apex court also sought his response on the plea for vacating its interim order putting a blanket ban on media for publishing the transcript of his conversation with several persons secured through "illegal tapping" of his telephone.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan also sought the view of the Centre on the contention that Singh cannot be given court's protection as the nature of his conversation with various politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists, which despite being tapped illegally, clearly indicated that he was allegedly indulging in illegal activities.
The order was passed on two separate applications filed by an NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), and Mumbai-based resident Devendra Mandavawal seeking intervention in the petition filed by Singh in 2006 for laying down fresh guidelines for tapping telephone conversations.
During the hearing, Solicitor General G E Vahanvati said new guidelines are already in place and the Centre had filed its affidavit in that regard on March 15 last year.
Vahanvati said if the court will dispose off Singh's petition in view of the guidelines already in place then the February 27, 2006 order restraining media from publishing the transcripts of the conversation will automatically go.
He was supported by senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for one of the parties, who said nothing survives in the petition filed by Singh after the guidelines have been laid down and it can be disposed of.
Senior advocates K T S Tulsi and Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the Mumbai resident and the NGO, questioned how a person (Singh) committing illegal acts could expect thecourt to give a direction for framing guidelines on phone tapping.
They said the transcripts showed he was blatantly attempting to interfere with the process of administration of justice and undermining the judiciary.
Both the advocates submitted that can a person caught entering into a conversation about the judges, illegal business deals with prominent industrialists and sharing of booty seek protection of the court.
They said when an illegally-obtained evidence was admissible in trial, the conversation of Singh recorded illegally also attracts the provisions of the Contempt of Court law and Prevention of Corruption Act as he was holding an official position in Uttar Pradesh Government.
Tulsi said if the apex court will not issue notice to Singh, people will feel that this court was trying to protect a person who was holding high post.
"It is the question of upholding the majesty of judiciary. No one can be allowed to pollute the fountain of justice," he said before the Bench, also comprising Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal.
The senior advocate, who sought suo motu contempt proceedings against Singh, said "prima facie the conversation is interference with the process of administration of justice".
The Samajwadi Party leader neither denied that he was involved in the conversations nor has ever complained that his voice was dubbed.
This, he said, when the court wanted to know "was it not the case of the petitioner (Singh) that somebody dubbed his voice."
Bhushan, who sought vacating the order on restraining the media from publishing the transcript of the conversation, said "the interim order was not in public interest".
The Bench, which after 30 minutes of hearing decided to issue notice, had expressed apprehension that if action would be initiated on the basis of illegal tapping it would lead to flooding of such materials in the media.
"Once an illegal tapping is permitted, the print and electronic media will be flooded with such tapped materials," the Bench observed.