The Top Court reserved its order on whether the government can claim privilege over the Rafale documents.
The Supreme Court today, reserved its order on whether the government can claim privilege over the Rafale documents. The top court heard petitions for a review of its December judgement in the Rafale case today that said there was no reason to doubt the decision-making process even as the opposition continued to attack the Centre over alleged corruption in the jet deal. During the hearing, the court told Attorney General KK Venugopal that the RTI Act is applicable for sensitive information in cases of corruption. The Attorney General said the court should direct the removal of the leaked pages from the review petitions as the government claims privilege over these documents. Public Interest Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who was also present during the hearing, told the court that the documents have been published and are already in public domain. The argument that this will harm the security is untenable.
In December, the top court had rejected petitions alleging the government had gone for an overpriced deal to help Anil Ambani's company bag an offset contract with jet-maker Dassault. On Wednesday, the Centre told the top court that documents filed by the petitioners seeking review of its Rafale deal verdict are "sensitive to national security" and those who photocopyied the papers have committed theft and put national security in jeopardy by leaking them. The government alsp targeted The Hindu newspaper over its investigative stories on the purchase of 36 fighter jets from France.
Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal.
Here are the live updates on the Supreme Court hearing petitions to review the Rafale order:
The Supreme Court reserves its order on whether the leaked Rafale documents can be relied on.
Chief Justice to Prashant Bhushan
All we are concerned about is the preliminary objection by the government claiming privilege of documents. Once we decide you can argue these points.
"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"- Prashant Bhushan
Prashant Bhushan in Supreme Court
The Attorney General had said my documents belong to Defence secrets and affect security and it can't be examined. He also said the petitioners didn't disclose how they got the documents.
Whether claim of privilege be allowed or not - only test is public interest. If public interest is involved then disclosure has to be made.
Chief Justice to Attorney General: According to you these documents affect national security and the court should not interfere. We have to consider it under RTI act
Chief Justice to Prashant Bhushan - If you want to reply you can or you can file your reply
Pointers from the Supreme Court proceedings
Chief Justice to Attorney General - You filed affidavit claiming privilige of documents. Statisfy us
Attorney General KK Venugopal: Supreme Court verdict says notes in a secret file are priviliged documents
Justice KM Joesph: Even in sensitive organisations, there are exceptions
Attorney General KK Venugopal during the hearing:
The court should direct the removal of the leaked pages from the review petitions as the government claims privilege over these documents (news agency ANI)
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".