SC bench recuses itself from hearing Niira Radia tape case

A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice GS Singhvi on Wednesday recused itself from hearing the petition by industrialist Ratan Tata in the Niira Radia tapes case taking exception to the strong words used by senior counsel Rajiv Dhawan about the court adjourning the matter.

The court adjourned hearing in the case arising out of Radia's taped conversation to 2 December after senior advocate Rajiv Dhawan, appearing for Open Magazine, strongly objected to the deferment of hearing.

Dhawan pleaded that the court should hear his submission in the case on Wednesday itself and he be allowed to argue on behalf of the magazine against Tata's petition, but the court turned down his plea.

An agitated Dhawan said, "It is highly unfortunate. I don't want to say this at a time when my lordship is retiring but I have to say it is highly unfortunate."

"You are denying me an opportunity to respond on the plea. It is highly arbitrary," he further said.

The bench consisting of Justice Singhvi and V Gopala Gowda took a serious view of some of the words used by Dhawan and recused itself from hearing the case.

Justice Singhvi said the matter will be listed before another bench.

"We will not hear this matter at all in view of the submission made by senior counsel Rajiv Dhawan. Matter should be heard by another bench," said Justice Singhvi.

The bench asked the central government and the CBI to file replies on a plea seeking to direct the government to take action on findings of the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), which found "irregularities" in some business transactions after examining Nira Radia tapes.

The plea filed by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) referred to a purported letter written by the investigating officer to the director of SFIO and submitted that cases of serious corporate fraud were allegedly brought out against them which need to be probed.

The bench also asked former Tata group chief Ratan Tata, who has filed a plea for not making public taped conversations of Radia, to file reply immediately after the order was passed and the matter was within a week.