The Supreme Court today (April 10, 2019) dismissed Central Government’s preliminary objections on using privileged documents for considering the review petition filed in the Rafale case.
The review petition filed against the Rafale judgment passed on December 14, 2018, will now be heard on merits.
The judgment was delivered by a Bench comprising of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and JusticesSanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph. Justice Joseph wrote a separate, concurring judgment.
The Review petition was filed by Former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha and lawyer Prashant Bhushan on January 2, 2019, under Article 137 of the Constitution of India to challenge the judgment passed by the apex court on December 14, 2018, in which the apex court had dismissed the plea seeking an investigation into the controversial Rafale deal.
In the review plea, the petitioners alleged that the judgment was based on “errors apparent on the face of the record” and ought to be recalled. The petitioners had relied on the reports published by ‘The Hindu’ and sought an open court hearing, which was allowed by the Court.
The Attorney General for IndiaK.K. Venugopal objected to reliance of these documents by saying that they were 'stolen' from the Ministry of Defence, and said that they were protected by 'privilege' under Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act.
Further, the AG also said that documents are protected under the Official Secrets Act, 1923, and that the disclosure of the documents is exempted under Section 8(1) (a) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
He had, therefore, sought dismissal of the Review Petitions in limine without going into the merits of the case. The court after hearing the arguments on the preliminary objection raised by the Centre against the review petition had reserved its judgment in the case on March 14, 2019.