New Delhi, Jan 11 (Agencies): Tata group chairman Ratan Tata has criticised in the Supreme Court the government's "lackadaisical attitude" on the leakage of his tapped telephonic conversations with corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, alleging it has remained least bothered about the violation of an individual's privacy in the entire episode.

He voiced the criticism in an affidavit filed in the court in response to the government's reply to his petition, seeking protection of his right to privacy, linked to the citizens' fundamental right to life.

"Petitioner (Tata) is seriously concerned about the lackadaisical attitude of the government on standing by and allowing purloined material of this kind to be freely distributed and published without taking any step to retrieve it or to find out the source of leakage," said Tata in his affidavit.

He said failure to protect his tapped conversations from being leaked and letting it reach outsiders "was not a matter of many great moments in law".

Tata pointed out that the Centre's affidavit to the apex court "gives the impression that it is the perception of the government that while protecting such wiretap material is required by the rules, the failure to safeguard such material leaking out and reaching the hands of  outsiders does not warrant any step on the part of the government to retrieve it" or to probe as to how the leak occured.

The government in its affidavit has admitted that "not only this power of tapping telephones is being exercised where there is a compelling need to prevent the commission of serious crime which impinges upon the securty of the state, but it has been widely extended even
to prevent violation of tax laws," said Tata in his affidavit.

"The present petition does not seek to raise the validity of this extension of the power to wiretap to the tax authorties," said Tata adding, the government, howerver, must take responsibilty to ensurt that such material is not leaked to public domain.

While raising the "serious issue of invasion of privacy", Tata also questioned the journalistic ethics in publishing loose conversations between two individuals.

"Publishing transcript of conversations between two individuals ... without ascertaining the truth of the contents of the conversation but also without differentiating between loose conversation (more in the nature of gossip) and matters that may be considered as  admission against the person indulging in the conversation can hardly be justified on the high principles of freedom of press," said Tata.

Apprehending that corporate entities having stakes in various media houses could also misuse it to settle scores with each other, Tata said freedom of press cannot be misused to fight "surrogate corporate battles."

Tata submitted the PCI has recommended disclosure of the stakes of various business houses and corporate groups in the various media firms.

Tata has moved the apex court seeking a probe into the leakage of the tapes of his private conversations with Radia.

In his petition, the industrialist has sought action against those involved in the leakage of the tapes alleging that such an act amounts to infringement of his fundamental right to life, which includes right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.