The Supreme Court Bench heard review petitions on the Rafale deal today. The government told the court that documents linked to the Rafale deal were stolen and petitioners violated the Official Secrets Act by relying on classified documents.
The Government indirectly targeted petitioner Prashant Bhushan who drew the court’s attention towards the investigative reportage by The Hindu.
The government’s lawyer Attorney General KK Venugopal said, “These documents were stolen from the Defence Ministry either by former or present employees. These are secret documents and can’t be in the public domain.”
The Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi questioned what action the government had taken.
The centre’s lawyer told the court that hey were investigating how the documents were stolen. The Attorney General stressed, “It is a criminal offence. We are objecting preliminary because secret documents can’t be annexed with the petition. Review and perjury petitions must be dismissed.”
There was an intense exchange between Justice KM Joseph and the government’s lawyer KK Venugopal. Justice KM Joseph asks AG Venugopal,”Can relevant evidence be cut out saying it is illegally obtained. Can’t stolen evidence be looked into if it is relevant”.
The Government in an open letter told the court that “We need Rafale jets to defend our country from F-16,” Attorney General KK Venugopal argued referring to the dogfight between India and Pakistan at the Line of Control recently.
Venugopal said, “Because of the urgency negotiations started for Rafale. The first batch is to be supplied in September and 52 pilots are to be sent to France for two-three months training. It is to protect the security of the country. But we are attacked,” to which Justice KM Joseph replied, “Suppose great crime is committed, are you going to take shelter under national security?”
The court will hear the Rafale deal again on the 14th of March.
(The Pigeon Express Opinion– It’s shameful that the Government of India can’t protect critical secret documents within the defence ministry. What’s even worse is the government was arguing for the court to not consider the documents in the court. Whatever the source maybe if the documents have an iota of valid information of corruption on the rafale deal, they should be considered because the government has gone on to accept that those were defence documents.)