The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the Centre's preliminary objections claiming 'privilege' over three Rafale documents cited in petitions seeking review of the December 14 verdict on the fighter jet deal.
In a unanimous judgement, a three-judge bench headed Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi allowed the admissibility of the three documents and said the review pleas will be heard on merits.
"We deem it proper to dismiss preliminary objections and hold and affirm the review petitions will be adjudicated on the basis of relevance of the three documents whose admissibility was questioned by respondents," Justice Gogoi said.
The bench said the date of hearing the review pleas will be decided later.
The review petitions were filed against the apex court's December 14 judgement refusing to order a probe into the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.
Arun Shourie, who is among the petitioners seeking review of the Rafale verdict, said, "Our argument was that because the documents relate to defence, you must examine them. You asked for the evidence and we have provided it. So the court has accepted our pleas and rejected the arguments of the government."
The Centre had claimed "privilege" over the Rafale documents and their admissibility as evidence in the case.
The bench had said that it will take a decision first on the preliminary objections of the Centre on admissibility of "stolen" privileged documents annexed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and lawyer Prashant Bhushan in their review petition against the apex court's December 14 verdict.
The documents have already been published in the media. The Centre had also claimed that the documents were "unauthorisedly accessed" from the originals kept in the Ministry of Defence and leaked into the public domain.
The government had contended that the documents were protected under the Official Secrets Act and their disclosure was exempted under the Right to Information Act as per Section 8(1)(a).
However, the court had said Section 22 of the RTI Act gave an overriding effect over the Official Secrets Act. (ANI)