New Delhi, Apr 10 : The Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously rejected the Modi government’s claim of privilege as regards the documents that were produced by the petitioners Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, & Prashant Bhushan, regarding the big-ticket deal to purchase Rafale fighter aircraft from France-based Dassault company.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, dismissed the Government stand of not relying on those "leaked documents", and said, the matter would be heard at a later stage on merit and the maintainability of the petitions.
The apex court also rejected the government’s contention that the review petition and application should be dismissed at the outset because the documents produced by the petitioners were photocopies of classified documents which amounted to 'theft.'
Instead, the court stated that it will consider all these documents while deciding the review petition and perjury application on merits.
The Central government had objected to three documents which were all initially published in the media.
In its judgement, the Supreme Court said that no question has been raised and, in 'our considered opinion, very rightly, with regard to the publication of the documents in ‘The Hindu' newspaper. The right of such publication would seem to be in consonance with the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.'
Insofar as the claim of privilege is concerned, on the very face of it, Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, relates to unpublished public records. As already noticed, the three documents have been published in different editions of ‘The Hindu’ newspaper, the apex court said.