SC reserves order on Centre claiming privilege over ‘leaked’ Rafale files

French aircraft Rafale. (File)

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on the Centre’s claim that it had privilege over documents produced by petitioners seeking review of its judgment in the Rafale case.

Seeking removal of the “leaked” files submitted by the review petitioners from the records in the case, Attorney General KK Venugopal told the CJI Ranjan Gogoi-led three-judge bench that state documents could not be published without explicit permission as the government had privilege over them.

Referring to Section 123 of Evidence Act and provisions of RTI, Venugopal said, “Under the provision of Evidence Act, no one can produce privileged documents in court without permission of department concerned.”

Hearing petitions seeking review of its December 14, 2018 judgment in Rafale deal case, the bench, also comprising Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph, said RTI Act had an overriding effect on Official Secrets Act.

“What privilege do you (Attorney General) claim? They (petitioners) have already produced them in court. As per Section 22 and Section 24 of RTI Act ‘even intelligence and security establishments bound to give information about corruption and human rights violations,” the bench said.

To this, the Attorney General argued that the security of the state superseded everything. “They (petitioners) have produced it after stealing it. State documents can’t be published without explicit permission,” Venugopal said.

The…

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