It will ask the Bench headed by Justice H L Dattu not to insist on the demand to name the person. The decision was taken by the organisation’s governing body unanimously. It said the information relating to the 2G spectrum scam was received in confidence and trust by CPIL’s counsel Prashant Bhushan from a source who did not wish that his identity be revealed. That trust reposed in CPIL’s counsel ought not to be breached.
CPIL also stated that several informants and activists have had to lose their lives for complaining against corruption. Satyendra Dube, S Manjunath, Amit Jethwa and Shehla Masood were killed for exposing corruption after their identity became public. Several others and their families have had to face harassment of all kind. Therefore, the CPIL cannot tell its counsel to disclose the source and, thus, expose the source to great risk, especially considering the seriousness of the issue and the entities involved.
CPIL claimed it continuously receives important information and documents from a large number of sources who wish to keep their identity secret. Any disclosure of identity in one case is likely to deter sources in other cases. Therefore, the identity of the source can be revealed only if the person concerned agrees in writing to such a disclosure. “The role of the court in a PIL, unlike private litigation or suit, are non-adversarial where the role of the court is to ascertain the truth and to devise remedies for doing justice and upholding public interest. A strict application of the forms of proceedings and rules regarding verification, as may be applicable to individual grievances, have been found to be quite inappropriate for consideration of issues in public interest. The court has, therefore, often entertained even letters as PILs, entertained news reports as evidence and taken up several cases suo motu based on news reports. The court has often appointed inquiry commissioners, amicus curiae, fact-finding committee to assist the court in various important PILs.”
CPIL also pointed that in the past, like the hawala case where Jain dairies were placed, Radia tape case and even in the 2G case, court has taken cognisance of the facts and has ordered investigation, without insisting on the source of the documents. Revealing the identity of the source would, therefore, set a bad precedent and would make several PILs impossible to conduct, which would not be in public interest or in the interest of justice, and would set the clock back on 30 years of jurisprudence.
The decision will affect Friday’s hearing in the coal block allocation scam case before the bench of Chief Justice R M Lodha where CBI has accused Bhushan of theft and forgery. CBI has asked for the disclosure of the whistle-blower and criminal cases against Bhushan.