Courts and tribunals should be selective in making public the details related to security and intelligence officials while deciding their cases to avoid putting their lives at risk, the government has advised the chief justices of all the high courts.
In a letter to the chief justices of all the 21 high courts in the country, law minister M Veerappa Moily has suggested careful handling of the “sensitive information” involved in such cases, which could have implications on national security also.
The issue was first raised by the Cabinet Secretariat earlier this year, which drew the ministry’s attention to atleast three cases, in which sensitive details about some intelligence officials were allowed to be put in the public domain. “The law ministry should take up the matter with the chief justices of high courts to protect the identity of officials working for security and intelligence agencies, given the sensitive nature of their jobs,” the Cabinet Secretariat had written to the ministry.
Moily, in his letter to the chief justices, has recommended a series of measures to protect the identity of the officials, working for intelligence agencies and engaged in court cases.Moily suggested that the ministry would ask its law officers to cite sections 123 and 124 of the Evidence Act, which prevent usage of any unpublished official records as evidence without prior permission from head of the concerned organisation.
Among the other steps, the Cabinet Secretariat had recommended holding in-camera (not open for general public) proceedings in courts and tribunals and allowing only some portion of judgments to be put up on the websites in such cases.
Moily has also advocated special training for judges and lawyers taking up such cases, “to make them aware on how to handle such sensitive cases.”