Five cases in which Central government invoked ‘national security’ argument

Pegasus would be the fifth case in which national security has been invoked by the Central government. Read to find out about four such other cases.
North and South Block
North and South Block

The Central government on Monday told the Supreme Court that interference by Supreme Court in the Pegasus scandal will have national security implications.

The submission was made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta in response to a bunch of pleas seeking court-monitored probe into the scandal.

This would be the fifth such recent case when national security has been invoked to limit judicial interference in a case.

Four other recent cases in which the Central government invoked national security are:

Rafale scam

This was one of the most significant cases in which the government invoked national security as a ground to ask court to refrain from judicial scrutiny. Consequently, the government had also placed before the Supreme Court certain details in a sealed cover.

The petition seeking probe into the scam was eventually disallowed by the top court. However, a blatant mismatch (as it was later called) in the submission of the Centre made in sealed cover and the judgment of the court gave a ground for filing a review petition.

The argument of national security was also taken during the review hearing.

The Ministry of Defence filed an affidavit stating that the petitioners committed theft by attaching photocopies of sensitive and secret documents in the review Petition and it could lead to compromising national security.

The review petitions were also eventually dismissed.

Kashmir internet ban

Another important case in which national security was cited was in the case challenging the internet curbs in Jammu & Kashmir after abrogation of Article 370.

The Central government submitted that restrictions on internet were necessary in view of national security concerns and cross-border terrorism.

One of the major grounds cited by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to justify the restriction was that opening up of internet and telecommunication will be misused by anti-India elements to spread unrest in the valley.

“Jurisprudence on free speech relating to newspapers cannot be applied to the internet, as both the media are different. While newspapers only allow one­way communication, the internet makes two­way communication by which spreading of messages is very easy,” Mehta argued while justifying restrictions on internet.

The Supreme Court eventually pronounced its judgment on January 10, more than 5 months after the restrictions were put in place.

The Court held that freedom of speech and expression through internet and freedom to carry on trade or profession through internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution.

It also clarified the law concerning orders passed under Suspension Rules. First, orders suspending internet can be only for a temporary duration and not an indefinite period; Second, such orders should clearly indicate the specific reasons for imposing the restrictions; Third, such orders should be published and the validity of such orders can be reviewed by courts.

Bhima Koregaon

One of the more recent matters in which the issue of national security was cited was in the Bhima Koregaon case before the Bombay High Court.

The argument was taken in a plea filed by two of the accused Surendra Gadling and Sudhir Dhawale challenging the transfer of probe in the Bhima Koregaon case from Pune Police to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

The affidavit filed in the case by the Ministry of Home Affairs, stated that the Central government had issued a notification to the NIA to take over the investigation considering the "gravity of the offence and its inter-state link and implication on national security".

Rohingya Refugees

Another case in which the Central government took the plea of national security was in relation to Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.

The government in its affidavit filed in 2017 before the Supreme Court said that continued stay of Rohingya refugees in India was a threat to national security.

"Some Rohingyas are indulging in illegal/anti-national activities, such as mobilisation of funds through hundi/hawala channels, procuring fake Indian identities for other Rohingyas and also indulging in human trafficking,” the affidavit read.

The affidavit was filed in a plea by two Rohingyas challenging the government decision to deport them.

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