New Delhi: The Supreme Court was on Wednesday informed by the Centre that certain documents related to Rafale fighter jets deal that have appeared in the media were stolen from the Defence Ministry and threatened the newspaper with the Official Secrets Act for publishing articles based on them. Meanwhile, the apex court adjourned the hearing on the matter for March 14.
Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal told the bench that it was being probed if they were stolen by former or present employees. “We are dealing with defence purchases which involve the security of the state. It is a very sensitive case,” he said.
The bench, also including Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph, was hearing a batch of petitions seeking a review of its December 14 verdict dismissing all the pleas against the deal procured by India from France.
The Attorney General reportedly told the top court that the review petitions should be dismissed as they relied on stolen documents. To this, Justice Joseph reportedly asked, “Can relevant evidence be cut out saying it is illegally obtained? Can’t stolen evidence be looked at if it is relevant?”
The Attorney General also told the court that the source of the document should be disclosed to the court by those who published it. To this, the CJI said, “Primary question is that should the court not look into the evidence or the document, if there is relevance or corruption?” Responding, AG Venugopal said, “It should not be looked into as it deals with defence and secrets.”
Referring to the aerial combat with Pakistan last week, he said the country needs the Rafale jet to defend itself “from F-16 fighter planes that recently bombed us”. He said, “Without Rafale how can we resist them.” Adding further, he informed that two squadrons of Rafale fighter jets are coming in flyaway condition. The first one will be in September this year.”