"Documents Related To Rafale Deal Have Been Stolen": Attorney General Of India To Supreme Court
The documents related to the Rafale deal have been stolen from the Ministry of Defence, presumably by a public servant, said Attorney General of India KK Venugopal today to Supreme Court. Attorney General Venugopal said that the important documents regarding the pricing of the deal were stolen from ministry files and given to The Hindu newspaper for publishing. Currently, the Supreme Court is hearing a review petition on clean chit given by the court to the central government on Rafale deal.
N Ram, Chairman of The Hindu Publishing group earlier broke news about the serious inconsistencies in the Rafale deal through a series of articles.
“Documents stolen from the Defence Ministry”
Representing the central government, Attorney General Venugopal told the apex court, “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.”
To this, the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi asked what action was being taken in this regard. AG said that investigations are underway as to know how documents were stolen. As reported by NDTV, he further accused The Hindu of relying on these “stolen” classified documents for publishing the newsbreak. “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,” he added. AG said the petitioners including Prashant Bhushan were violating the Official Secrets Act by relying on classified documents.
The Hindu newsbreak
The Hindu published several reports reporting several inconsistencies in the Rafale Deal. These reports were said to be based on several governmental documents. The first report said that the Prime Minister’s Office held parallel negotiation with the French side, another report, again by the daily said that the PM Modi-led government waived critical provisions for anti-corruption penalties. The report also said that the central government overruled the recommendations of making payments through an escrow account (an important safeguard in the absence of a sovereign or bank guarantee) days before the deal was signed.
PM Modi government’s Rafale deal for 36 flyway aircraft was not better than the previous government’s 126 aircraft deal, said the three senior Defence Ministry officials who were the domain experts on the seven-member Indian Negotiating Team (INT). This was unveiled in another report by The Hindu as part of their series on the Rafale Deal.