The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to hear the review petitions on New Delhi\u2019s Rs 59,000-crore Rafale fighter jet deal with France\u2019s Dassault Aviation on merits and on the basis of the \u201cprivileged\u201d documents that have been published in the media after its December ruling rejecting a set of petitions in this regard. The court\u2019s decision, ahead of Thursday\u2019s first-phase polls of the general elections, came as a setback for the Centre, which has been opposing the eventuality of the court relying on the newly surfaced \u2018secret\u2019 and \u2018classified\u2019 documents, citing the issue of \u201cnational security\u201d. Dismissing the preliminary objections raised by the government, a Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, in two separate but concurring judgments, decided to look into the three documents that had pointed to the disparity in pricing details of the 36 jets, objections raised by the Indian Negotiating Team (INT) to parallel negotiations conducted by the PMO, etc. Also read | After Gita Gopinath raises data concerns, Pronab Sen says, India never charged with lack of transparency The CJI, who wrote the judgment, noted that all the three documents were in \u201cpublic domain\u201d. The top court said the date of hearing the review petitions would be fixed later. Congress president Rahul Gandhi was quick to seize the political opportunity afforded by the apex court\u2019s judgment; he claimed that the court has \u201caccepted that there is some corruption in Rafale\u201d. Addressing a poll rally in Goa, Prime Minister Modi indicated that the Congress chief was \u201cburdened\u201d with \u201cBofors sins\u201d of his late father (Rajiv Gandhi) and therefore, was accusing others of corruption. The defence ministry on Wednesday said the petitioners were using \u201ccertain documents with the intention to present a selective and incomplete picture of internal secret deliberations relating to national security\u201d. In its judgment, the court stated that the claim of immunity against disclosure under Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act has to be essentially adjudged on the touchstone of public interest. To satisfy itself that public interest is not put to jeopardy by disclosure of privileged documents, the court may even inspect them, the court said. \u201cSuch an exercise, however, would not be necessary in the present case as the document(s) being in public domain and within the reach and knowledge of the entire citizenry, a practical and common sense approach would lead to the obvious conclusion that it would be a meaningless and an exercise in utter futility for the court to refrain from reading and considering the said document or from shutting out its evidentiary worth and value,\u201d Gogoi said. According to the 18-page judgment, Section 8(2) of the Right to Information Act contemplates that notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act and the other exemptions, \u201ca public authority would be justified in allowing access to information, if on proper balancing, public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm sought to be protected. When the documents in question are already in the public domain, we do not see how the protection under Section 8(1)(a) of the Act would serve public interest.\u201d Justice KM Joseph in a separate 38-page concurring judgment said that the case does not strictly involve the claim for privilege as the petitioners have not called upon the government to produce the original and the state does not take objection to the correctness of the contents of the documents. Also read | Demonetisation, GST raised risks for poor; social protection needs private hand to step up The government had argued that the publication of the documents was part of a conspiracy following the leak of these defence purchase records from the Defence Ministry. It said that the documents were unauthorised photocopies of the originals kept in the ministry and sneaked into the public domain. Attorney General KK Venugopal had submitted that the review petitions were based on \u201cstolen\u201d documents, which are not admissible in evidence. The national security was at stake and the leak of the documents amounted to offences under the Official Secrets Act, he had claimed. The review petitions were filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan against the SC's December 14 judgement that dismissed all petitions challenging the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets, observing that due process was followed in signing the deal. The court had also said that it did not find any \u201ccommercial favouritism\u201d in the contract and had rejected the allegation that the government had gone for an overpriced deal to help Anil Ambani's company bag an offset contract with jet-maker Dassault. \u201cThere is no evidence of commercial favouritism to any private entity,\u201d the SC had said, adding that the perception of individuals \u201ccannot be the basis of a fishing and roving enquiry by this court.