The Supreme Court on Thursday, March 14, reserved its order on whether it would examine the documents shared by advocate Prashant Bhushan and others in the review petitions filed in the Rafale jet deal controversy. The case was being heard by a three-judge bench of the top court comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph.
The Centre claimed privilege over documents pertaining to Rafale fighter jet deal and told the apex court that no one can produce them in the court without the permission of the department concerned. Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, referred to Section 123 of the Evidence Act and provisions of the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) to buttress his claim.
Justice Joseph told Venugopal that the RTI Act has an overriding effect on the Official Secrets Act. He pointed out that "public interest outweighs" in cases of corruption and human rights violation. The Centre is bound to furnish documents in such cases, the apex court judge said.
However, the petitioners argued that not everything can be brushed aside in the name of national security. Petitioner Prashant Bhushan has presented photocopies of the 'secret' documents related to Rafale fighter jet deal in the top court to back petition seeking review of last year's judgment on Rafale deal.
(Inputs from agencies)