- Media reports alleged phone tapping by Essar Group, company denies
- Phone taps targeted govt officials, industrialists during 2001-06: Report
- Probe was ordered 10 days after receiving complaint: Home Ministry
The Indian Express newspaper and Outlook magazine had first reported on Friday that corporate conglomerate Essar Group had allegedly tapped phones of several cabinet ministers, business chiefs Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani and many bureaucrats over five years.
According to the Express, the purported conversations that were recorded reveal "widespread peddling of influence in corridors of power, 'corruption in the business milieu,' brokering of deals and blurring of lines between business and government".
According to the report, a Supreme Court lawyer Suren Uppal has submitted a complaint to the Prime Minister's Office claiming to represent a former Essar employee Albasit Khan who allegedly carried out the phone taps.
The Home Ministry has said a probe into the scandal was set up 10 days ago and it will share the report with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office once it is completed.
The Essar Group has denied the charges and said they are a victim of an extortion attempt. Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Limited has said it is "shocked" by the reports.
The scandal has also triggered a political row with several Opposition parties turning up the heat on the government.
The Congress has called for a "thorough probe" into the scandal, which spanned one term of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and one united Progressive Alliance (UPA) government which it steered.
"What it points to is the institutional manner in which NDA was functioning: If media reports are true, the entire NDA government was completely and absolutely compromised," party spokesman Manish Tewari said.
The Aam Aadmi Party and the Janata Dal-United have also sought an investigation into the charges.