Public Interest Immunity Claims Proceeding:
The Supreme Court of India ruled on the use of sealed cover proceedings in courts and the telecast ban of a Malayalam channel.
- The Court criticised the government for silencing voices in the media and reducing constitutional rights and procedural guarantees of a fair hearing.
- The Court also devised an alternative procedure for Public Interest Immunity claims proceedings to replace the use of sealed covers.
- The Supreme Court evolved the “less restrictive” Public Interest Immunity (PII) claims proceedings as an “alternative” to the sealed cover proceedings while dealing with state requests for confidentiality.
- The PII proceedings would be a “closed sitting,” but a reasoned order allowing or dismissing the PII claim of the state should be pronounced in open court.
- The court will appoint an amicus curiae, which means “friend of the court”, to act as a bridge between the parties involved in public interest immunity claims.
- The court-appointed amicus will be given access to the materials sought to be withheld by the state and allowed to interact with the applicant and their lawyer before the proceedings to ascertain their case.
- The amicus curiae will not interact with the applicant or their counsel after the public interest immunity proceeding has begun and the counsel has viewed the document sought to be withheld.
- The amicus “shall to the best of their ability represent the interests of the applicant” and would be bound by oath to not disclose or discuss the material with any other person.