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Report No. 88

10.8. National security.-

Discussion of English law in the text book generally appears under various categories, national security, public service and the like. In one of the cases1 involving national security, the defendants, acting under the direction of the Board of Admiralty, refused to produce a letter to their agent on the ground that it contained information concerning the Government's plans with regard to one of the Middle Eastern campaigns of the First World War. The information had, of course, been given to the defendants by the Board of Admiralty under the seal of strictest secrecy, but as Swinfen-Eldy, L.J. observed:-

"The foundation of the rule is that the information cannot be disclosed without injury to the public interests, and not that the documents are confidential or official, which alone is no reason for their non-production: the general public interest is paramount to the interests of the suitor". Where the security of the State is involved, the claim of privilege (if substantiated by adequate material) may be more readily upheld2.

1. Asiatic Petroleum Co. Ltd. v. Anglo-Persian Oil Co. Ltd., (1916) 1 KB 822 (830).

2. Cf. Dancan v. Cammel Laird & Co. Ltd., (1942) 1 All ER 857.

Governmental Privilege in Evidence - Sections 123, 124 and 162 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and Articles 74 and 163 of the Constitution Back

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