Supreme Court reserves order on Rafale review pleas: A three-judge bench comprising chief justice Ranjan Gogoi, justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph on Thursday reserved order on the Rafale review petitions. The top court has adjourned its order on Centre’s claims over the secret documents. Representing government, the AG said the Rafale documents cannot be produced in the Supreme Court without the government’s consent. In defence, the petitioners argued that not everything can be brushed aside in the name of national security.
At the hearing, the top court asked Venugopal for evidence on the claim that secret documents were stolen. It further said the petitioners have already produced the documents, hence AG’s claim of stolen documents doesn’t hold any ground. In response, Venugopal said that the Supreme Court should not consider the leaked pages from the review petitions as it’s a confidential document, hence belongs to the government. Appearing for the Centre AG cited Section 123 of the Evidence Act along with provisions of RTI to establish his claim. Rejecting government’s argument, Justice Joseph said RTI act applies to even sensitive information in cases such as corruption, human rights violation
The Attorney General further said that state documents can’t be published without explicit permission. The review petition has been filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie against the December 2018 judgement which had dismissed petitions calling for an investigation into the Rafale deal. The petitioners had sought perjury charges citing that the Centre suppressed crucial facts when the Supreme Court dismissed the PILs in its December 14, 2018 hearing. In the last hearing that took place on March 8, 2019, the Attorney General received flak from the bench as he said that secret documents were stolen from the Ministry of Defence. Though later he clarified that his statement was misconstrued.