NEW DELHI: Hearing a PIL seeking an inquiry into the Essar Group allegedly tapping several telephones of VVIPs, including Cabinet ministers, corporate chiefs and bureaucrats, between 2001 and 2006, the Delhi High Court on Friday directed Supreme Court lawyer Suren Uppal to submit in a “sealed cover” the allegedly tapped conversations to the Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday.
The court is scheduled to hear a PIL seeking a court-monitored inquiry by a special investigation team into the matter Monday.
The PIL came up before the vacation bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and A K Pathak for urgent hearing on Friday. But Justice Pathak recused himself from hearing the matter and the bench did not pass any order. It later re-notified the hearing to Monday.
Justice Mridul told the petitioner that Justice Pathak was recusing himself “for personal reasons” since Jasmeet Singh was appearing as the central government counsel in the matter. Uppal had on June 1 sent a complaint to the Prime Minister’s Office about the alleged tapping of phone conversations of VVIPs by former Essar official Albasit Khan for five years.
The PIL before the High Court names 13 persons as respondents, including Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani and top Essar officials Prashant Ruia, Shashikant Ruia and Ravikant Ruia.
“I have passed a similar order in the Vyapam issue, where the copy of the evidence was submitted in a sealed cover to the Madhya Pradesh High Court registrar. The limited issue for today is what is to be done about the custody of the sensitive material. We have the MHA officer present in the court, give it to him in a sealed cover,” Justice Mridul said. Uppal replied, “I will submit it on Monday.”
In his PIL filed before the Delhi High Court, Uppal said, “It is respectfully submitted that I am in possession of approximately 20 crucial CDs that contain very vital conversations and also incriminating hand-written logbooks and other relevant documents that substantiate the unlawful and illegal happenings which are allegedly related to the illegal and unlawful tapping, interception and recording of the phone calls.”