Se­cu­rity con­cerns over­ride nat­u­ral jus­tice

Business Standard - - BUSINESS LAW -

Though court de­ci­sions based on doc­u­ments sub­mit­ted by the gov­ern­ment in sealed cov­ers are cur­rently a mat­ter of de­bate as in the Rafale and the Alok Verma pro­ceed­ings, the Supreme Court last week adopted the same pro­ce­dure while dis­miss­ing two ap­peals by ca­ble net­work op­er­a­tors. In the lead­ing case, Digi Ca­ble Net­work vs Union of In­dia, the firms were granted per­mis­sion to op­er­ate ac­cord­ing to the Ca­ble TV Net­work Rules. Later, it was can­celled in­vok­ing Rule 11C as the Union home min­istry did not grant it se­cu­rity clear­ance. It was chal­lenged in the Bom­bay High Court, which dis­missed the writ pe­ti­tions. In the ap­peal, the gov­ern­ment pre­sented cer­tain doc­u­ments in sealed cov­ers. After pe­rusal, the Supreme Court up­held the can­cel­la­tion, ob­serv­ing that the firms had no right to prior no­tice. In mat­ters of na­tional se­cu­rity, a party can­not in­sist on strict ob­ser­vance of nat­u­ral jus­tice. What's in the na­tional in­ter­est is not a ques­tion of law, but a mat­ter of ex­ec­u­tive pol­icy, the judg­ment em­pha­sised.

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