New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Thursday quashed the trial against Reliance Industries Ltd and three of its then senior executives under the Official Secrets Act, saying that the allegedly secret documents recovered from them in 1998 were already in public domain.Allowing the appeals of RIL and its officials against the lower court’s March 2012 decision to put them on trial for criminal conspiracy and possession of secret government documents, Justice Sunil Gaur said that continuing the proceedings against them would be a “travesty of justice” as the ingredients of the offence they were accused of were “apparently lacking”. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM'”Since the impugned order suffers from utter non application of mind, therefore, it cannot be sustained. There is no hesitation whatsoever in concluding that continuance of proceedings before the trial court is travesty of justice, as the ingredients of the offence alleged are apparently lacking,” the high court said. “Thus, to secure the ends of justice, the instant proceedings are hereby halted forthwith. Consequently, impugned order as well as the proceedings emanating therefrom, are hereby quashed,” it said. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KThe decision came on the appeals of RIL and its then Group President V Balasubramanian, Vice President A N Sethuraman and General Manager (corporate affairs) Shankar Adawal, who was represented by senior advocate N Hariharan. In its 13-page verdict, the court referred to several Supreme Court judgements on what is a secret document and said that “a person cannot be put on trial merely because a document has been marked as ‘secret’, as it is necessary to see the nature of information contained in it, to find out if any offence under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1923 is made out or not”. The high court said the documents in question were already published in newspaper reports and therefore, they were in the public domain.
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