The Supreme Court on Thursday received its order on the government’s plea claiming privilege over the documents filed by petitioners – former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, journalist-turned politician Arun Shourie and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan – in connection with the Rafale cae.
After an hour-long hearing, the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi reserved the order on the plea which also sought removal of the documents from the case records.
The Centre had on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the petitioners, who were seeking a review of the court’s December 14 judgement giving a clean chit to the government in the Rafale deal, are guilty of leakage of sensitive information having a bearing on national security and combat capacity of the fighter jets.
In an affidavit, the government said the leaked information was now available to the “enemy/our adversaries”, adding those who have conspired in this leakage were guilty of penal offences punishable under the Indian Penal Code.
The Centre had contended that the documents which were unauthorisedly photocopied belonged to a class for which it was “entitled to claim privilege under Section 123 and 124 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.”
Asserting that the petitioners had “no authority” to produce the documents before the court without its “explicit permission”, the affidavit says that these documents are exempt from disclosure under Section 8(1)(a) of the Right to Information Act.