Case Summary

YASHWANT SINHA Vs CBI & OTHERS

Review Petition (Criminal) No. 46 of 2019 in Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 298 of 2018

FACTS

The case is concerned with three documents that provided evidence in the political controversy surrounding the Rafale arms deal: a 7.8 billion euro weapons deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter planes from France. The dispute arose after the Indian prime minister announced a decision during a 2015 visit to Paris to buy the aircraft, manufactured by Dassault Aviation. 

On 15th December 2018, the Indian Supreme Court held that there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process of the Modi government. The court dismissed all the petitions seeking a review of the decision via a CBI investigation. On 2nd January 2019, ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Advocate Prashant Hushan appealed to the Supreme Court to review the Rafale verdict. 

On 6th March 2019, the CBI informed the Supreme Court that documents relating to the Rafale deal had been stolen from the Defence Ministry. 

On 10th April 2019, the Supreme Court dismissed the preliminary objection by the CBI opposing the inclusion of the leaked documents. In November 2019, the Hon’ble Court dismissed the review petitions against its verdict within the deal on the grounds that they lacked merit. 

QUESTION OF LAW

Whether there has been a violation of,

  1. Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India (On ‘The Hindu’s right to publish documents)
  2. Sections 3 and 5 of the Official Secrets Acts,1923
  3. Section 8(2) of the Right to Information Act,2005
  4. Section 123 of the India Evidence Act,1872

HELD

The case is famously known as ‘the Rafale​​ case’. A three-judge bench comprising of Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Kaul and Justice Joseph dismissed all the review petitions and gave a clean chit to the NDA government effectively denying the corruption allegations in the Rafale deal regarding the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets.​​ The court, in this case, highlighted that the documents which are covered under the Official Secrets Act could be produced in the court as evidence in the interest of public justice​​ that is the​​ court can rely on such documents in order to do justice, and its unauthorized publication does not affect its evidentiary value.

Submitted By: Shweta Tated

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