Rafale: Review Petition in Public Domain, National Security in jeopardy, Centre to Supreme Court

Rafale: Review Petition in Public Domain, National Security in jeopardy, Centre to Supreme Court

Shruti Mahajan

The Ministry of Defence has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court today in the Rafale case. It has submitted that the petitioners have committed theft by attaching photocopies of sensitive and secret documents in the Review Petition.

The copy of the Review petition filed by the petitioners is available in the public domain and contains photocopies of sensitive and secret information regarding national security relating to war capacity and combat aircraft. This information, on account of being in public domain, is easily accessible to our adversaries. Thus, it jeopardizes India’s national security, the affidavit states.

In consonance with the stand taken by the Attorney General KK Venugopal, the affidavit submits that the unauthorized use of the secret government documents and leaking the same amounts to theft under the Indian Penal Code.

“Even though the Central Government maintains secrecy, the petitioners and the deponent of the affidavit of the Review Petition are guilty of leakage of sensitive information, which offends the terms of the agreements. Additionally, those who have conspired in this leakage are guilty of penal offences under the Indian Penal Code including theft by unauthorized photocopying and leakage of sensitive official documents affecting National Security.”

The MoD has further submitted that the documents belong to a class with respect to which the Government of India is entitled to claim privilege under Sections 123 and 124 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. Thus, the petitioners have no authority to produce the documents before the Supreme Court without explicit permission from the Government of India.

Moreover, the documents are also exempt from disclosure under Section 8(1)(a) of the Right to Information Act as well, submits the Centre.

Read More: “Stolen” and SecretiveRafale Review and the sanctity of Official Secrets

This leakage of sensitive information is being probed and forms a subject matter of internal inquiry, the affidavit states further backing the submissions made by AG Venugopal during the previous hearing in the case.

On the above grounds, the Central government has sought dismissal of the review petitions. The Centre has also sought removal of the controversial documents from the record of the Review petition and miscellaneous applications.

Attorney General KK Venugopal had, during the previous hearing of the case, argued that the documents that were attached by the Petitioners in the Review petition and published by certain media houses, were stolen documents and an inquiry under the Officials Secrets Act was underway.

Subsequently, Venugopal had gone to the press and clarified that the statement attributed to him was incorrect and that the documents were, in fact, photocopied without permission.

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