Radia tapes controversy
The Radia tapes controversy relates to the telephonic conversations between Nira Radia, an influence peddler and an acquaintance of the (then) Indian telecom minister A. Raja, and with senior journalists, politicians, and corporate houses, taped by the Indian Income Tax Department in 2008–09. The tapes led to accusations of misconduct by many of these people. Nira Radia used to run a public relations firm named Vaishnavi Communications, whose clients include the Tata Teleservices and Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries.
The Radia Tapes
After getting authorisation from the Home Ministry, the Indian Income Tax department tapped Radia's phone lines for 300 days in 2008–2009 as part of their investigations into possible money laundering, restricted financial practices, and tax evasion.
In November 2010, OPEN magazine carried a story which reported transcripts of some of the telephone conversations of Nira Radia with senior journalists, politicians, and corporate houses, many of whom have denied the allegations. The Central Bureau of Investigation has announced that they have 5,851 recordings of phone conversations by Radia, some of which outline Radia's attempts to broker deals in relation to the 2G spectrum sale. The tapes appear to demonstrate how Radia attempted to use some media persons to influence the decision to appoint A. Raja as telecom minister.
- Barkha Dutt, Group editor, English news, new delhi television(ndtv),ndtv also has a hindi news channel "ndtv india"
- M.K. Venu, senior business journalist
- Prabhu Chawla, editor of India Today magazine
- Shankar Aiyar, then with India Today Group
- Vir Sanghvi, HT advisory editorial director
- Ranjan Bhattacharya (foster son-in-law of former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee)
- Suhel Seth, Brand Manager
According to the transcripts of the tapes, Radia lobbied against the reappointment of Dayanidhi Maran to the post of Union IT and Communications minister.
- Radia spoke with Ms. Barkha Dutt at 0948 IST.
Dutt: 'The stalemate (between Congress and DMK) continues, ya
Radia: 'my honest advice is that you tell them (Congress) that they need to tell him (Karunanidhi) directly ..
Dutt: 'OK, let me talk to them'.
In a later conversation at 1047 IST, Barkha says that it (conveying the message to Congress) was 'not a problem' and that she would talk to Ghulam (Nabi Azad).
- Radia, in a later conversation with Ranjan Bhattacharya, who also appears to be acting as a conduit to the Congress, mentions the above conversation, where she says, 'I made Barkha call up Congress, and get a statement from Congress whether the Prime Minister has actually said that he doesn't want Baalu, which she carried that he had never said it'. She also mentions to Bhattacharya, that 'your friend Sunil Mittal, has been lobbying against Raja (for Maran).'
The news gained prominence following sustained pressure on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook against an attempted blackout orchestrated by many prominent Indian TV channels and newspapers. #barkhagate was a trending number one topic on Twitter in India for more than a week, since the break-out of the news. According to the Washington Post, "Twitter has played an important role in launching what has become an international conversation on the issue, with the Indian diaspora weighing in".
Initially, only a handful of the mainstream newspapers in India, like The Deccan Herald, Indian Express had openly written about the tapes. Some newspapers like HT Media, Mint (the business newspaper also owned by HT media) and NDTV said "the authenticity of these transcripts cannot be ascertained". CNN-IBN's Sagarika Ghose discussed with a panel of experts, if the corporate lobbying is undermining democracy, on the 'Face the Nation' programme on the channel. The Radia tapes is seen to have also made a dent in the image of the media in the country. "The complete blackout of the Nira Radia tapes by the entire broadcast media and most of the major English newspapers paints a truer picture of corruption in the country," wrote G Sampath, the deputy editor of the Daily News and Analysis (DNA) newspaper. After it became an international news, more and more media houses covered the story. The Deccan Chronicle commented, "The 'Radia tapes' may have torn the veil off the nexus between information hungry journalists, lobbyists and industrialists, and opened everyone’s eyes to what has long been suspected — the ability of a small but powerful group to use their connections to influence policy." The largest circulated English newspaper in India and the world, The Times of India finally opened up on 25 November 2010, commenting "The people are showing who the boss is. The weapon in their hands is the internet, ... has seen frantic activism against "power brokering" by journalists in collusion with corporate groups and top government politicians..."
Protests and developments
Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi, and others have refuted the allegations. Open Magazine maintained that the conversations were carried as they appeared in the recordings. Dutt defended her reputation through her Twitter account. "Struck by the bizarre irony of being accused of favouring a man i have never met (raja) and have always attacked in print and on TV. Gnite!," she said via one of her tweets on Twitter.
New Delhi Television Limited posted a strong rebuttal on its website terming the insinuation that Barkha lobbied for A Raja as "unsubstantiated, baseless and defamatory" and threatened action against Open Magazine.
Hindustan Times cited Sanghvi's clarifications on his website, and stated that the authenticity of these transcripts cannot be ascertained. Vinod Mehta wrote opposition leader Arun Jaitley said Barkha Dutt pleaded to him not to mention about the conversation in the parliament while attacking the government on the 2G Scam.
On 26 November 2010, Barkha Dutt released a detailed statement, addressing questions raised by the tapes, which she claims were edited.
On 27 November 2010, Vir Sanghvi released a detailed statement, clarifying his role.
Nira Radia has served a legal notice on The Pioneer, on the report titled "Tapped and Trapped" published by the newspaper. The notice asserted that The Pioneer's report regarding corruption and manipulation in the allotment of 2G spectrum to telecom operators, in so far as it referred to Radia's connections with Telecom Minister A Raja, are "absolutely false, baseless and malicious and constitute gross defamation".
The original tapes are now annexures in a Supreme Court petition seeking Raja’s prosecution. The opposition parties in India have demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam, which could also to be extended to include a probe into the Radia tapes to ascertain the media's role in the controversy. The Government is also accused of selectively releasing merely 10 hours of the 2000 hours recorded of the Radia tapes.
The CBI in its affidavit in the Supreme Court in the 2G spectrum allocation case, on 22 November 2010, had stated that Radia will be approached for investigation at an appropriate time. and that the probe would be completed latest by March 2011. On 24 November 2010, Nira Radia was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials and recorded her statements in relation to the 2G scam probe.
On 1 August 2013 Supreme court asked whether the Income Tax department had informed the authorities which had directed the tapping of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia’s telephone about the sensitive and serious nature of the conversations.The Supreme court also asked whether the Income Tax department had informed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) about the criminality of certain matters that surfaced from the conversations. Chief Minister Madhu Koda asking for money from Tata Steel to issue a licence; lobbyist Niira Radia pulling strings with DMK politicians to help Tata Motors secure a contract; ex-telecom regulator Pradeep Baijal getting a plum post-retirement job; Reliance Industries' cosy relationship with the regulator; Reliance Communications of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group fudging records – these allegations are among the 16 "issues" the CBI has red-flagged to the Supreme Court as evidence of alleged "criminality or irregularity" in intercepted phone conversations of lobbyist Niira Radia.This list, which re-opens the Radia controversy, was turned over to the apex court after it pushed the CBI into listening to all the 5,800 conversations tapped by the Income-Tax department rather than only those related to the 2G case as it did earlier. It prompted the judges to remark earlier this week that there are middlemen in "every nook and corner" of the government.The CBI has indicated that Radia herself is directly involved in only one of these cases which is listed as item number 1. It wants to probe four more and refer the others to state governments, CVOs of ministries and one to SEBI. It claims that intercepts also indicate a payoff to a former judge and a five-star swimming pool membership for a top law officer of the government but calls these "hearsay", and wants the Supreme Court to issue further directions.
- Transcripts : The Radia Tapes contains all the leaked audio transcripts between corporate lobbyist Nira Radia and other high profile people
- "The spotlight is on the media now : The Niira Radia episode raises questions about the boundary between legitimate news gathering, lobbying and influence peddling.". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 24 November 2010.
- "Radia tapes featuring senior scribes create stir". The Indian Express. Express Buzz. 20 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- 23 November 2010. "Indian media's mighty stand exposed on wrong side of 2G spectrum scam". International Business Times.
- "2G: 'Lobbyist' Nira Radia under ED scanner". Zee News. 24 November 2010.
- "Queen of connections : First a quiz. What connects Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Mittal? Nira Radia.". E Jayakrishnan, India Syndicate,. MSN India. 22 November 2010.
- "Does media follow unethical, biased journalism?". Oneindia.in. 21 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "'Radia lobbied to get Raja telecom ministry'". Headlines Today. India Today. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "Some Telephone Conversations: Inside the networks of lobbyists and power brokers that dictate how this country is run.". OPEN Magazine. 20 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "Barkha, Sanghvi in damage control mode after Open allegations". Tehelka. 19 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "Leaked tapes: CBI says it has 5,851 recordings". Daily News and Analysis.
- "JPC on Radia tapes?". Mail Today. India Today. 23 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "Phonegate: India Inc tapped? Copy of a purportedly leaked report says conversations of topmost industrialists, two senior journalists, were tapped with home secretary's permission". Mid-day. 29 April 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "All Lines Are Busy : There was not one pie Niira Radia didn’t have her hand in nor any area—media, corporate or government—she didn’t have a contact in". Outlook. 29 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "Prabhu Chawla Gas judgement discussion". Outlook.
- G Sampath (20 November 2010). "When Radia killed the media star". Daily News and Analysis. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- Also by Open. "I am there... you want me to speak to anyone". OPEN Magazine. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
- "www.outlookindia.com | No. 3 Barkha Dutt: May 22, 2009 09:48:51". Outlook India. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
- "www.outlookindia.com | No. 7 Barkha Dutt: May 22, 2009 10:47:33". Outlook India. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
- "www.outlookindia.com | No. 16 Ranjan Bhattacharya: May 22, 2009 16:55:35". Outlook India. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
- "#barkhagate: Protests in 140 characters leave no space for gray areas". DNA. 24 November 2010.
- "Twitter world abuzz over Radia-Barkha tapes". rediff.com. Mynews.in. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "Barkhagate". Facebook. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "Those living in glass houses...". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "2G scam: Netizens bark at Barkha, Vir Sanghvi". CIOL. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- Emily Wax (22 November 2010). "Indian journalists accused of secretly helping politicians, businesses". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "Anchored in mire : Journalists are only expected to be witnesses.". The Deccan Herald. 23 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- Sukumar Ranganathan (19 November 2010). "Editor’s note: Why we are quiet on the Open magazine story". Mint. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "NDTV on defamatory remarks against Barkha Dutt". NDTV. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "FTN: Is corporate lobbying undermining democracy?". CNN-IBN. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "Outrage as Nira Radia tapes dent image of 4th Estate". India Today. 20 November 2010.
- Lahiri, Tripti (23 November 2010). "Q&A: The State of Indian Journalism". The Wall Street Journal.
- "Oh what a lovely blackout". The Hoot.
- "Companies love to pamper senior journalists". Mail Today. India Today.
- "Indian Media Where Art Thou on Media Scandal". Huffington Post. 20 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- Neena Gopal (21 November 2010). "Billions for a few, few for the billions". The Deccan Chronicle.
- "2G scam sideshow: Netizens lambast high-profile journalists". The Times of India. 25 November 2010.
- http://bhadas4media.com/article-comment/7449-2010-11-20-02-28-02.html Article by Amitabh Thakur
- Until Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi resign, boycott NDTV & Hindustan Times?
- "Open’s response to NDTV". OPEN Magazine. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "og eating dog?". ArabNews. 20 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- "A CLARIFICATION". Hindustan Times. 19 November 2010.
- Mehta, Vinod (2011). Lucknow Boy: A Memoir. Penguin Books India. p. 249. ISBN 0670085294.
- "Barkha Dutt on the Allegations Against Her". 26 November 2010.
- "Setting the record straight". 27 November 2010.
- "Radia serves legal notice on Pioneer". The Pioneer. 23 November 2010.
- Harish Gupta (24 November 2010). "Outsmarted Congress redraws strategy in Parliament". Daily News & Analysis ( DNA).
- "Radia role to be probed, report latest by March: CBI". The Hindustan Times. 23 November 2010.
- "2G spectrum scam: Lobbyist Nira Radia being questioned". The Economic Times. 24 November 2010.[dead link]
- IMRAN AHMED SIDDIQUI (24 November 2010). "Radia takes 7-hour ED test — Lobbyist leaves smiling after telecom quiz". The Telegraph (Calcutta, India).
- "ED questions Niira Radia on 2G scam". The Times of India. 25 November 2010.
- "Why no action based on Radia tapes? SC asks IT dept". The Hindu. 1 August 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013.