New Delhi, April 10: In a major setback for the Centre, the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice S K Kaul and Justice K M Joseph on Wednesday dismisses the preliminary objections raised by it regarding the admissibility of certain specific documents in connection with the Rafale deal.
Notably, the Centre had raised objections to the admissibility of some documents that were earlier published by a newspaper named, "The Hindu" which was then carried by news agency ANI.
The Centre asserted that the documents which were “sensitive to National Security” and "accessed unauthorisedly" constitutes “penal offences under the Indian Penal Code including theft”.
The bench today, however, was of an unanimous view that the review petitions against the Supreme Court's December 2018, order in which it dismissed all PILs seeking a probe into alleged irregularities in Rafale deal with France's Dassault Aviation should be adjudicated on its own merit while considering the documents produced by the review petitioners.
The decision clearly indicates that the Court will hear the arguments afresh from petitioners as well as from the government.
Pertinently, During the hearing of March 6 before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi Attorney General K K Venugopal accused a paper of stealing confidential government documents from the Ministry and alleged that the petitioners are relying on stolen evidence.
The government while referring to section 123 of the Evidence Act as well as provisions of the RTI Act had argued that the submitted documents are privileged and without its permission, they cannot be produced in court.
Seeking removal of the leaked documents submitted in the case from the records it was asserted that the government had privilege over them.
In the same month, the Supreme Court bench reserved its order on whether it would examine the alleged leaked documents submitted by Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and activist advocate Prashant Bhushan in the review petitions filed in the Rafale deal.
The Court also elucidated while reserving its order that when the issues are of public interest, it is not a mandate to disclose the source of information and every contention raised cannot be dismissed in the name of national security.
The bench likewise added that firstly it would decide the preliminary objection raised by the Centre, and then it will look into the facts of the case.
The plea for recall of the judgment alleged that the Supreme Court's judgement relied upon a non-existent Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report as the judgement said that the CAG report was finalised and examined before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which were apparently “incorrect claims” made by the Centre.