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SC to hear Tata plea on Radia tapes tomorrow

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will take up tomorrow Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata`s plea on the right to privacy after the leakage of his telephonic conversations with corporate lobbyist Niira Radia tapped by the Income Tax Department.

A bench headed by Justices G S Singhvi will examine the issues raised by Tata, including the questions of right to privacy and right to freedom of speech and expression as envisaged under the Constitution.

The court had on December 2 last issued notices to the Centre and news magazines `Open` and `Outlook` which had published some portions of the transcripts of Radia`s conversations with several people including Tata.

The counsel for `Outlook` magazine Anoop Bhambani said his team of lawyers is all set to defend the news weekly and will contest all the issues.

The bench had also issued notices to the Union Home Secretary, CBI, the Income Tax Department and the Finance Ministry.

Tata, in his petition, has said that several parts of the conversations were purely private in nature which were spoken casually and could not be taken seriously. He pleaded the online portals and the news media should be restrained from making his conversations public.

Tata has also sought action against those involved in the leaking of the tapes, saying such an act amounts to the infringement of his fundamental right to life, which includes his right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.

He has contended that Radia`s phone was tapped for a probe into alleged tax evasion and it could not be used for any other purpose.

Tata has argued in the petition that making his conversations with Radia public also violates his another fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

In the wake of spectrum allocation scam, which according to CAG resulted in a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer, some journals had published the taped conversation that Radia had with various politicians, bureaucrats, industrialists and journalists.

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