“No question of material in sealed cover in my Court”, Justice Gautam Patel of Bombay HC
While hearing a bunch of 63 commercial arbitration petitions through videoconferencing, hon’ble Justice Gautam Patel of the Bombay High Court refused to accept any document in a sealed cover stating,
“I am making it abundantly clear that 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 came down heavily on a party who presented material in a sealed cover.
Rejecting the envelope, Justice Gautam Patel added that no party can unilaterally decide to put any material in a sealed cover before his Court.
"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 into a sealed cover."
-Justice Gautam Patel
The representative argued that the material was sensitive and could find its way to the press if it were not submitted in a sealed cover.
To this, Justice Patel stated,
"I could not care less. 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… I can not and will not curtail the rights of the free press at the instance of this or that party. There will be no gag orders here.”
Justice Patel directed the sealed cover material, as well as a clean and legible copy of an affidavit already submitted, to be filed again in Court. The respondent could choose to do so or face the consequences, he added.