Monday, September 27, 2021

Rafale papers stolen from Defence Ministry, petitioners violated Official Secrets Act: Govt to SC

New Delhi, March 6: As the hearing on Rafale began in the Supreme Court on petitions seeking review of its December 14 verdict, the government on Wednesday claimed that certain documents related to the matter “were stolen from the Defence Ministry and that the petitioners had violated the Official Secrets Act by relying on classified papers”.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre further told the court that an investigation was underway in the matter.
“We are dealing with defence purchases which involve the security of the state. It is a very sensitive case,” Venugopal told the court.
“Those who put documents on Rafale deal in public domain guilty under Official Secrets Act and contempt of court,” the AG added.
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the government to elaborate on the action taken on the alleged theft of documents related to Rafale deal.
Petitioner advocate Prashant Bhushan told the Supreme Court that a supplementary affidavit has been made based on reports by The Hindu’s Narasimman Ram. However, the apex court refused to look into any supplementary documents.
Bhushan told the court that critical facts on Rafale were suppressed when the petition for lodging FIR and investigation was filed.
Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie along with Bhushan had filed a petition with a plea seeking direction to the CBI to register FIR for alleged irregularities in the deal.
He further asserted that the court would not have dismissed the plea for probe into the Rafale deal if there had not been a suppression of facts.
AG KK Venugopal argued before the court that the documents relied upon by advocate Prashant Bhushan were stolen from the Defence Ministry.
He further sought the dismissal of Rafale review petition and perjury application as they relied on stolen documents, according to the government.
The Supreme Court on December 14 last year gave a clean chit to the Centre on the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.
A three-Judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi dismissed all the petitions and said that no probe was required. (Courtesy: TS)