Skip to content. |
Skip to navigation
Rules of evidence that prevent disclosure of certain government documents in court proceedings may be overridden if the public interest in disclosure clearly outweighs the public interest in keeping documents secret.
A citizen sought disclosure from government officials of the "blue book" relating to the rules and instructions for the protection of the Prime Minister while traveling. The petitioner claimed that the documents would reveal how the government had engaged in corrupt practices and violated limits on amount of money that may be used in election campaigns. Section 23 of the Indian Evidence Act prevented anyone from giving evidence in court that was derived from certain unpublished official documents without first obtaining permission from a relevant government official.
The Court ruled that a court may order government documents to be disclosed in court proceeding, even if official permission has not been obtained as required by the Evidence Act, if the public interest served by disclosure clearly outweighs that of secrecy. This was the first time the Supreme Court established that the citizen’s right to know arises from the fundamental right of freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution. In ruling that the government had to disclose documents regarding security arrangements for the Prime Minister's travels within the country, so long as disclosure did not endanger his or her security or public order, the Court reasoned that people have the right to know everything that is done by public officials in their official capacity. This right is derived from the concept of freedom of speech, but it is not absolute and may be subject to restrictions for reasons of public security.
Judgment of the Court.
Plone® Open Source CMS/WCM
Distributed under the
GNU GPL license.