The Supreme Court on Monday refused to accept a note in a sealed cover given by the Centre presenting its views on the payment of arrears under the One Rank One Pension, or OROP scheme, to armed forces personnel, reported Live Law.

Under the One Rank One Pension scheme, a uniform pension is paid to all retired military personnel of the same rank, and the same duration of service, irrespective of when they retire.

The Supreme Court is hearing a petition about the delay in clearing arrears under the scheme. In January, it had directed the Centre to clear the dues by March 15 and later pulled it up for the delay in making the payment.

At Monday’s hearing, the court refused to accept the sealed cover note, saying that the government’s response needs to be shared with the other parties in the case.

Sealed covers are not shared with other parties in the case. The practice is carried out on the grounds that the contents are highly sensitive or could harm national security or public order.

Attorney General R Venkatramani shared the note saying that it was confidential. But Chief Justice DY Chandrachud asked why there was a need for secrecy as the matter was related to implementing the court’s orders.

“I am personally averse to sealed covers,” Chandrachud said. “What happens is, we see something, he [the other party] does not see. And we decide the case without showing it to him. This is fundamentally contrary to the judicial process. There cannot be secrecy in the court.”

The chief justice said such secrecy is acceptable when submitting a case diary as the accused person should not see it, given the source of information could affect someone’s life.

“But this is payment of pension in pursuance of directions in our judgement,” he added. “What can be the great secrecy in this?”

Venkatramani insisted that the court take the sealed cover but Chandrachud did not accept it, reported Bar and Bench.

“We need to put an end to this sealed cover procedure which is being followed in the Supreme Court because then the High Courts will also start following,” Chandrachud said. “And this is fundamentally contrary to the basic process of fair justice.”

In Febuary too, the Supreme Court had refused to accept in sealed cover suggestions on names proposed by the Centre as members of a committee to review and strengthen regulatory mechanisms in order to protect investors. The panel had been proposed in light of the allegations of stock manipulation against the Adani Group.