Rafale files stolen from MoD
The Union government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that documents linked to the controversial Rafale deal for Frenchmade fighter planes were stolen, possibly by public servants
New Delhi: The Union government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that documents linked to the controversial Rafale deal for French-made fighter planes were stolen, possibly by public servants.
Attorney-General KK Venugopal said the papers regarding the pricing of the Rafale jets -- a topic of furious political debate -- were stolen from the Defence ministry files and given to an English newspaper for publishing.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph was hearing the case during which former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan, who had jointly filed the petition, alleged that the Centre suppressed crucial facts when the apex court decided to dismiss the batch of PILs against the Rafale deal in December. After a round of intense arguments and counterarguments over the allegations of corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal, the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing to March 14.
When he argued that a report by the newspaper could not be taken up as evidence against the government, Justice KM Joseph said even stolen evidence could be looked into provided it was authentic and relevant.
Venugopal also said a review petition and an affidavit filed by senior advocate Prashant Bhushan contained extracts from the stolen documents, and these should be dismissed. He told the Supreme Court that people who accessed the documents were guilty of violating the Official Secrets Act.
But Prashant Bhushan said there was no infringement, explaining that the information on file notings was open under the Right To Information. Later, Venugopal read out the RTI Act and said it exempted defence documents from disclosure. The Attorney-General accused Bhushan and other petitioners of having "unclean hands" and asked how they gained access to the documents. He said the petition was based on a "criminal act".