Supreme Court reserves Rafale order on secrecy of leaked documents

NewsBharati    14-Mar-2019
New Delhi, March 13: Citing the preliminary objections and the government’s claim of privilege over the documents used by the petitioners seeking review of the apex court’s earlier judgment on Rafale deal, Supreme Court on Thursday reserved the order.
  
Attorney General KK Venugopal, began his submissions before the apex court stating that the government has made a mistake in filing the CAG report on the Rafale deal. “SC should direct removal of the leaked pages from the review petitions, as the government claims privilege over these documents”, he added.
Bhushan argued that Section 123 privilege does not apply to documents which have already been published, adding that the only touchstone to decide admissibility of the documents in question is public interest.
“Whether claim of privilege be allowed or not only test is public interest. If public interest is involved then disclosure has to be made”, he said adding that even the CAG report filed by Centre deals with defence purchases. “All kinds of defence details are given. So for the government to say that the Supreme Court shouldn't decide is unstateable argument”, he said.
The government's argument is that petitioners asking for a review based on confidential documents are violating the Official Secrets Act. During the last hearing of the Rafale case, the government had admitted the documents were stolen from the Defence ministry. In the past recent hearing, SC had granted Defence Minister permission to file an affidavit in the related matter.
Meanwhile, on 6th of March, Venugopal raised a preliminary objection on the basis that the documents relied on by Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha were secret and should not have been used by them.