Sealed Cover Jurisprudence

  • IASbaba
  • May 5, 2022
  • 0
Indian Polity & Constitution
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In news: The Supreme Court, in the Media One ban case, reiterated its intention to examine the legality of governments filing incriminating material in sealed covers without sharing the information with the accused/other party.

  • Sealed cover jurisprudence has been frequently employed by courts in the recent past for example Rafale Fighter Jet Deal 2018, 2014, BCCI Reforms Case, Bhima Koregaon case 2018 etc.

What is Sealed Cover Jurisprudence?

  • It is a practice used by the Supreme Court and sometimes lower courts, of asking for or accepting information from government agencies in sealed envelopes that can only be accessed by judges.
  • While a specific law does not define the doctrine of sealed cover, the Supreme Court derives its power to use it from Rule 7 of order XIII of the Supreme Court Rules and Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.

Rule 7 of order XIII of the Supreme Court Rules:

  • According to the rule, if the Chief Justice or court directs certain information to be kept under sealed cover or considers it of confidential nature, no party would be allowed access to the contents of such information, except if the Chief Justice himself orders that the opposite party be allowed to access it.
  • It also mentions that information can be kept confidential if its publication is not considered to be in the interest of the public.

Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872:

  • Under this act, official unpublished documents relating to state affairs are protected and a public officer cannot be compelled to disclose such documents.
  • Other instances where information may be sought in secrecy or confidence are when its publication impedes an ongoing investigation, such as details which are part of a police case diary.

Issues with the Sealed Cover Jurisprudence

  • Against the Principles of Transparency and Accountability
  • Obstruction to Fair Trial and Adjudication
  • Sealed covers are dependent on individual judges thus making it Arbitrary in Nature

Thus the court expressed its intention to examine the larger issue of “sealed cover jurisprudence”.

Previous Year Questions (PYQs)

Q.1) In India, Judicial Review implies (2017)

  1. the power of the Judiciary to pronounce upon the constitutionality of laws and executive orders.
  2. the power of the Judiciary to question the wisdom of the laws enacted by the Legislatures.
  3. the power of the Judiciary to review all the legislative enactments before they are assented to by the President.
  4. the power of the Judiciary to review its own judgements given earlier in similar or different cases.

Source: The Hindu

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