Will first decide on Centre’s preliminary objections, says SC in Rafale case
The Supreme Court Thursday said it will decide first on the preliminary objections raised by the Centre and then go into the facts of the Rafale fighter jet deal case.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi wrapped up the hearing on preliminary objections by the Centre that review petitioners in the case cannot rely on privileged documents obtained illegally. It will be known later as to when the order will be pronounced on the issue.
The bench asked the petitioners seeking review of its order to focus on the preliminary objections regarding the admissibility of the leaked documents.
At the outset, Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, claimed privilege over documents pertaining to the Rafale fighter jet deal with France and told the Supreme Court that no one can produce them in the court without the permission of the department concerned.
Venugopal referred to section 123 of the Evidence Act and provisions of the RTI Act to buttress his claim. He told the top court that no one can publish documents which relate to national security as the security of the State supercedes everything.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, one of the petitioners seeking review, opposed the submission and said that the Rafale deal documents, which AG says are privileged, have been published and are already in public domain.
Bhushan said that provisions of the RTI Act say public interest outweighs other things and no privilege can be claimed except for documents which pertain to intelligence agencies.