Disclosure of pellet gun report not in nation’s security interest: Centre to SC

Stating that the public disclosure of the contents of the expert committee report on the use of pellet guns in Kashmir would not be in the interests of the safety, security and sovereignty of the country, the Central government has decided not to place the report as part of the record proceedings before the Supreme Court or make its contents public.
In this regard, the Union Home Ministry has moved an application before the Supreme Court, claiming privilege from disclosing the report under the Evidence Act, 1872.
Issuing notice to the Centre and the J&K Government on a plea by the J&K High Court Bar Association for banning the use of pellet guns by the security forces to deal with violence in the state, the apex court had on December 14, 2016, asked the Centre to file the expert panel report on the use of pellet guns.
“The interim report is an unpublished government record relating to affairs of the state and it belongs to a class which demands protection from disclosure,” reads the interim application before the Supreme Court filed by the Union Home Ministry through Sulekha, a Deputy Secretary rank official, on February 17, 2017.
“It is a considered decision of the Government of India, Ministry of Home affairs, that it is not in the interests of safety, security and sovereignty of the country to place the said interim report as part of the record of proceedings before the court,” the application further reads, adding that for “limited purposes, the Government of India was willing to place the report in a sealed cover” for the perusal of the judges only.
Stating further that it will “not be in public interest” to disclose the contents of the interim report of the expert committee, which was constituted in terms of the memorandum/order dated July 26, 2016, the government in its application has argued that for the same reasons, the copy of the report cannot be handed over to the petitioner Kashmir Bar Association or the advocates representing it.
“The Union of India, therefore, claims privilege in terms of Section 123 read with Section 162 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, from disclosing the aforesaid interim report to the petitioner or in any manner,” the Home Ministry has prayed in the application while urging the SC permission for claiming privilege from public disclosure.
The matter is expected to come up for hearing before the apex court later this month.