Other States

‘No question of material in sealed cover in my court’

Justice Gautam Patel of the Bombay High Court refused to accept any document in a sealed envelope saying, “At least in my court there is no question — and there will never be a question — of anything being done in a sealed cover.”

The High Court was hearing a bunch of 63 commercial arbitration petitions through videoconferencing on September 18. All petitioners claimed that Anugrah Stock And Broking Private Limited caused them extensive financial loss through illegal and unauthorised trades.

Advocate Rohan Cama, appearing for Anugrah, presented some additional material in a sealed cover, which was not made available to the court. Rejecting the sealed envelope, Justice Patel said, “Anything that I can see, all parties before me are entitled to see. That is all there is to it. This is the only method that I know of to ensure an open and transparent decision-making process. Those details will, therefore, need to be set on affidavit. I am also making it clear that it is not possible for any party to unilaterally decide to put material in a sealed cover.”

He went on to say, “Mr. Cama expresses an apprehension that this material will find its way into the press. That is not my concern. The fourth estate will do its job and I will do mine. I decide matters before me on the basis of the papers filed in court, not newspapers delivered to my doorstep... The press exists for a reason. It has a purpose, one that it serves. I cannot and will not curtail the rights of the free press at the instance of this or that party. I refuse to proceed on the basis that the press is always irresponsible. There will be no gag orders here.”

The court also said, “The choice before Anugrah is therefore clear. It may choose not to file whatever it has said in sealed cover and then take the consequences that follow, or it will file whatever it has said in that sealed cover on affidavit and serve this on all parties. I will not compel that decision. I will leave that to Mr. Cama and his clients to decide.”

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2020 11:10:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/no-question-of-material-in-sealed-cover-in-my-court/article32664184.ece

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