Just a day after securing a massive mandate in the 17th Lok Sabha, the BJP-led NDA government filed its written submissions to the Supreme Court on Friday stating that all the review petitions seeking investigation into the Rafale deal should be dismissed.
In its submissions, the government has argued that any interference may affect operational preparedness of Indian Air Force, further adding that the review petitions were based on flimsy and unfounded grounds.
The review petitions, seeking investigation into the Rafale deal, were filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and activist advocate Prashant Bhushan who had submitted a prayer in the top court on January 2, 2019 to review its verdict dating December 14, 2018, in which a clean chit was given to the Centre on the procurement of Rafale fighter jets from France.
In March 2019, when the hearing began in the Supreme Court on the petitions, the government had claimed that certain documents related to the matter “were stolen from the Defence Ministry and that the petitioners had violated the Official Secrets Act by relying on classified papers”.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, further told the court that an investigation was underway in the matter following which Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had asked the government to elaborate on the action taken on the alleged theft of documents related to the Rafale deal.
However, going back on his statement that the Rafale secret documents were stolen from the Defence Ministry, Attorney General KK Venugopal had claimed that the Rafale documents were not stolen and that what he meant in his submission before the Supreme Court was that petitioners in the application used “photocopies of the original” papers, deemed secret by the government.
In an apparent damage-control exercise, the AG had said, “I am told that the opposition has alleged what was argued (in SC) was that files had been stolen from the Defence Ministry. This is wholly incorrect. The statement that files have been stolen is wholly incorrect”.
Official sources had said the AG’s use of word stolen was probably stronger and could have been avoided.