SC rejects Centre’s plea to keep Rafale documents secret

  1. The Supreme Court has dismissed the central government’s plea that the documents related to the purchase of Rafale fighter jets should not be part of the review petition moved in the case.
  2. The government had argued that documents linked to the Rafale deal were stolen from the defence ministry and newspapers that published these files may have violated the Official Secrets Act.The government has also said that the documents are protected by privilege under Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act.
  3. The petitioners had countered the submissions of government by saying that claim of privilege cannot be made over documents which are already in public domain.They highlighted that Section 123 of Indian Evidence Act only protected unpublished documents.
  4. The Supreme court has said that the newspaper has the right to publish those documents as the right of such publication is part of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.Further,there was no law enacted by Parliament that specifically prohibited the publication of these documents.
  5. The Indian Evidence Act was originally passed in India by the Imperial Legislative Council in 1872 during the British Raj.It contains a set of rules and allied issues governing admissibility of evidence in the Indian courts of law.
  6. Section 123 of Indian Evidence Act states that no one shall be permitted to give any evidence derived from unpublished official records relating to any affairs of State.However,it can be produced as an evidence with the permission of the officer at the head of the department concerned,who shall give or withhold such permission as he thinks fit.
  7. Official Secrets Act is India’s anti espionage (Spy and Secret agent) act enacted in 1923 during the British Rule.It states clearly that any action which involves helping an enemy state against India is illegal.
  8. The disclosure of any information that is likely to affect the (a)sovereignty and integrity of India (b)the security of the State or (c)friendly relations with foreign States, is punishable by this act.