The top court said it could not come across any provision in the Official Secrets Act that allowed the government “either to restrain publication of documents marked as secret or from placing such documents before a court of law”.
“We dismiss the preliminary objections raised by the Union of India questioning the maintainability of the review petition,” a three-judge bench headed by Justice Gogoi said in the unanimous judgment that came precisely four years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi struck the revised Rafale deal in Paris.
The court rejected the government’s plea that the review petitions filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and lawyer Prashant Bhushan were not maintainable as they based on “stolen” documents covered under the Official Secrets Act.
The three documents used in the review petitions published in The Hindu in February and one also posted in The Wire, a news portal.
The apex court said the publication of the documents in The Hindu reminded it of its various judgments upholding the freedom of the press.
The bench said it would fix a date for a full hearing of the review petition.
In its December 14 order, the Supreme Court had dismissed petitions by several individuals who had demanded a court-monitored probe into the Rafale deal.
On Wednesday, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman accused Rahul Gandhi of making statements “verging on contempt of court” for saying that the Supreme Court had made it clear “chowkidarji” had committed a theft.
(This story originally appeared on The Telegraph)