National Defence Bureau,
New Delhi, 10 April 2019
The Supreme Court today rejected the Central Government’s argument that classified documents accessed by the media on the Rafale fighter jet deal can’t be evidence. The court said it will examine the secret documents while considering petitions asking for a review of its order giving the government a clean chit on the deal that the opposition alleges was corrupt.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who is the petitioner in the case had argued that “if a document is relevant in deciding a fact, how it was obtained becomes irrelevant”. Citing the US verdict on Pentagon papers leak, he said once documents are published, the government can no longer claim privilege.
Arun Shourie, former union minister and another petitioners.”These are sensitive documents relating to defence, but that was precisely what we said too – that because they are documents of importance, they must be treated as part of supporting documents”.
N Ram, chairman of The Hindu Publishing Group, said that the documents were published in public interest, and the media group will fiercely protect its sources.
In response to the Supreme Court order, spokesperson of Ministry of Defence released the following statement:
Supreme Court’s Order dated 10th April, 2019 on 36 Rafale Procurement Case
- The Hon’ble Supreme Court has passed an Order dated 10th April, 2019 on 36 Rafale Procurement Case.
- In the Review Petitions, the petitioners have relied upon the documents, some of which could not have been placed in public domain. The Central Government raised an objection that while considering Review Petitions, the said documents may not be considered as they are classified.
3. In the Order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court today, the Hon’ble Court has decided to look into the documents also while deciding the Review Petitions. The Review Petitions are pending and are yet to be heard.
4. The Hon’ble Supreme Court by a well reasoned judgement and order dated 14th December, 2018 had already dismissed the Writ Petitions.
5. It is reiterated that the petitioners are using documents with the 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.
6. The Government had provided the requisite information as desired by the Hon’ble Supreme Court to the Court and also to the petitioners as per directions of the Court and in the manner prescribed by the Court. The Government 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.