The Centre on Monday requested the Supreme Court to defer the Dassault Rafale review petition case while seeking more time to file an affidavit.
The hearing in the case was fixed for Tuesday, 30 April.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court had on 10 April admitted three documents connected to the Dassault Rafale fighter jet deal as evidence in the review petitions and dismissed the Centre’s “preliminary objections” to them.
The plea filed by former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, journalist Arun Shourie and lawyer Prashant Bhushan sought the recall and review of December 2018 judgment giving clean chit to the government in the deal. In their plea, the three had annexed the three documents.
The government claimed “privilege” over the leaked Rafale documents citing Official Secrets Act, 1923. It contended that the documents were stolen but later backtracked, and changed its stance saying that they were “unauthorisedly photocopied” and constituted “penal offences under the Indian Penal Code including theft”.
Following the SC order the Ministry of Defence issued a statement saying, “It’s reiterated that petitioners are using documents with intention to present a selective and incomplete picture of internal secret deliberations on a matter relating to National Security and Defence.”
“The documents presented by the petitioners are failing to bring out how the issues were addressed and resolved and necessary approvals of the competent authorities taken. These are selective and incomplete presentation of the facts and records by the petitioners,” the statement added.
The Ministry further said that the government had provided “requisite information as desired by the Supreme Court and also provided all records and files as required by CAG”.
“The main concern of the Government is relating to availability of sensitive and classified information concerning National Security in the public domain,” the Ministry said.
In the 10 April order the bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph was unanimous that the review petitions should be heard in their own merit.
The court had earlier reserved its verdict on 14 March after the Centre raised objections over the validity of these leaked documents.