New Delhi (India) Apr 12 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Friday issued a notice to the Centre and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) over a petition seeking to de-classify all official documents relating to Samba spy scandal.
A single judge bench of the High Court headed by Justice Vibhu Bakhru issued notice to the Ministry of Defence (Centre) and the COAS while observing that the petition raises an important question as for what durations can document be kept classified since indefinite classification would be violative of freedom of speech, which includes Right to Information.
During the course of hearing, the counsel for the petitioners advocate Pranav Sachdeva argued: "In all the major democracies around the world including United State of America and several European countries, all the classified documents have a fixed duration of classification and are mandatorily required to be declassified after a passage of a specified time or a specified event."
The Central government's counsel argued before the court that as per their manual, secrecy is the norm and disclosure is the exception.
Reacting over the government's statement, Justice Bakhru said that if this is the stand of the government, it should put this on an affidavit.
The court slated the matter for hearing on September 3.
The petition sought to de-classify all the official documents pertaining to 'Samba spy' scandal and put the same in public domain, as more than 40 years have elapsed, all court cases have ended and no claim of national security can now be raised.
The petition was filed by Ashok Kumar Rana, and Ranbir Singh Rathaur, former Captains in the Army who were also arrested during the investigation period and spent many years in prison.
Petitioners further alleged that in the Samba spy case, the entire careers, dignity, and honour of various upright Army officers including the petitioners were unduly sacrificed for the selfish gains and motives of certain officers in the military establishment.
The petitioners have tried every legal recourse available to them in order to prove their innocence but to no avail as the entire basis and materials of the charges and subsequent court martial proceedings against them were never properly and fully disclosed either to the petitioners or to this court.
"The entire case history, starting from the General Court Martial proceedings and thereafter to this Court till the Supreme Court of India, gives a glimpse of the kind of camouflage that was intended to be created by the respondents herein to shroud the real occurrences which if revealed would have left the military establishment red-faced and indictable," the petition said.
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