Sealed Covered Judgements in India
Sealed covers play a crucial role in maintaining confidentiality and transparency in the Indian judiciary. In court proceedings, sealed covers may be used to protect national security matters, confidential business information, medical records, and the identity of a witness or victim.
The use of sealed covers is authorized by various sections and rules under Indian laws.
Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 provides for the privilege of withholding evidence in certain cases, including cases where the evidence is of a confidential nature. The court may order that such evidence be produced in a sealed cover.
Order XIIIA of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013, which allows parties to submit documents or information in a sealed cover if they contain sensitive or confidential information.
Rule 6 of the Delhi High Court (Original Side) Rules, 2018 provides for the use of sealed covers in the Delhi High Court in cases where the disclosure of certain information may be prejudicial to national security, public order, or the interests of justice.
Section 22 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 provides for the exemption of certain information from disclosure under the RTI Act. Such information may be provided to the applicant in a sealed cover if the disclosure of such information is likely to harm the interests of a third party.
While the use of sealed covers is essential to protect sensitive information and evidence, it is subject to review by higher courts. Orders or judgments passed in sealed covers are usually passed only in exceptional circumstances. The use of sealed covers must also be balanced against the principles of transparency and openness in judicial proceedings.
Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud in the case relating to payment of arrears under the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme remarked,"I am personally averse to sealed covers. There has to be transparency in court....If we follow sealed covers, then High Courts follow it and there needs to be an end to it.