The Radia Tapes
refer to a series of recorded conversations
between public relations executive
Niira Radia and a host of politicians, bureaucrats and journalists. The tapes
included 5,000 conversations recorded between 2007 to 2009. The Radia tapes
case was investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the
Indian Supreme Court was scheduled to hear the matter Thursday, September 1,
2022. The last ‘effective’ hearing in the Radia tapes case took place on April
24, 2014, a Times of India report said.

The Radia
tapes have been variously described. An article in Quint, an online news
portal, describes Radia tapes as India’s own Watergate scandal, referring to
the scandal in the US President Richard Nixon administration. Manu Joseph,
senior journalist, novelist and recently-turned screenwriter, had said, “The
Radia Tapes raised many questions, it showed us how lobbying is done, how this
country is run, how things work.”

What are
the Radia Tapes?

The Radia
Tapes are a series of telephonic conversations recorded between 2007 to 2009,
reportedly by India’s Income Tax Department. Niira Radia, a Kenya-born
Indian-origin woman, a public relations executive-turned-lobbyist, had a series
of conversations with leading business people and journalists all of whom
seemed to be pushing for a deal between the Tamil Nadu-based DMK (Dravida
Munnetra Kazhagam) and the Congress with A Raja as telecom minister following
the 2009 general elections.

Till date,
there is no clarity on who ordered the tapping of the phones – the Finance
Ministry or the Home Ministry. According to a column written by Manu Joseph for
The Huffington Post titled ‘The Ratan Tata of the Radia Tapes,’ published
October 28, 2016, the income tax department had made the decision to stalk
Niira Radia after an anonymous letter was sent to the Finance Ministry that
claimed Radia was a covert operator for a foreign government.

The content
of the Radia Tapes became fodder for the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED)
to probe Niira Radia’s role with respect to government policy decisions like
spectrum allocation in the 2G case.

The Radia
Tapes involved communications between Niira Radia and politicians such as
Ranjan Bhattacharya, foster son-in-law of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee, Kanimozhi, A Raja and Arun Jaitley. Among journalists, those
communicated with include Barkha Dutt, then Group Editor of NDTV, Prabhu
Chawla, then editor of India Today magazine, Shankar Aiyar, Vir Sanghvi, Navika
Kumar and Rohini Singh.