New Delhi: The Supreme Court is hearing petitions seeking review of its verdict on Rafale fighter jets deal on Thursday. The development comes a day after the Centre told the top court that documents attached by the petitioners relate to war capacity of combat aircraft and are ‘sensitive to national security’.
“This puts the national security in jeopardy. Without consent, permission or acquiescence of the Central Government, those who have conspired in making the photocopy of these sensitive documents and annexing it to the review petition/ miscellaneous application and thereby committing theft by unauthorised photocopying of such documents relied in this regard… Have adversely affected the Sovereignty, Security and Friendly Relations with the foreign countries,” said the affidavit, filed by Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra on Wednesday.
The Ministry of Defence said an internal enquiry commenced on February 28 and is in progress to find out how and where the leakage of sensitive documents took place.
Earlier during March 6 hearing, Attorney General KK Venugopal, who is representing the Centre, had alleged before the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph that the review petition was based on the documents which were stolen from the ministry. However, two days later he retracted and said that in his submission, he meant that the petitioners in their application had used ‘photocopies of the original’ papers, deemed secret by the government.
The review pleas were filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist advocate Prashant Bhushan against the December 14 verdict dismissing all the pleas against the deal procured by India from France.
The Supreme Court had, in December last year, dismissed all petitions seeking a court-monitored investigation, saying it found “no occasion to really doubt the process” of decision making, pricing and selection of offset partners. However on February 26, it agreed to hear these petitions in an open court.