The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on the Central government’s claim of privilege over “leaked” documents in the Rafale case.
The review petition in the case was filed by Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Prashant Bhushan, seeking from the court a review of its verdict dismissing pleas for a probe into the Rafale deal.
The review petition was heard by a bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph.
On Thursday, Attorney General KK Venugopal made submissions on the basis of Section 123 of Indian Evidence Act to submit that the document in question could not be used in court without the permission of the officer concerned.
Prashant Bhushan, in his defence, said the objection raised by the Centre against disclosure of documents was mala fide as the purpose of this objection was not to protect national security or defence secrets. These documents were already in public domain, added Prashant Bhushan.
The government has submitted that the documents related to the Rafale deal are privileged and cannot be produced in court without its permission while the petitioners have argued that not everything can be brushed aside in the name of national security.
AG KK Venugopal said the Supreme Court should direct removal of the leaked pages from the review petitions as the government claims privilege over these documents to which the court responded by asking, “What privilege do you (Attorney General) claim? They have already produced them in court.”
To this, the Attorney General replied, “They have produced it after stealing it. State documents can’t be published without explicit permission.”
The Supreme Court had, on December 14 last year, given a clean chit to the Centre on the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.