Rafale Documents are missing. This news itself is a shock. Progression of shocks led to the blaming of public servants for the steal. The opposition is not losing the golden opportunity to attack the government on ‘carelessness’. Government has also imposed Official Secrets Act on the newspaper The Hindu.
Attorney General KK Venugopal said papers regarding the pricing of the Rafales were stolen from ministry files and given to The Hindu newspaper for publishing. He also argued that a report by the newspaper could not be taken up as evidence against the government. Justice KM Joseph injected some sense into the debate and said that even stolen evidence could be looked into provided it was authentic and relevant.
KK Venugopal also said a review petition and an affidavit filed by senior advocate Prashant Bhushan contained extracts from the stolen documents, and these should be dismissed. He also demanded imposing the Official Secrets Act. But Prashant Bhushan said there was no infringement, explaining that the information on file notings was open under the Right To Information. Venugopal countered the point by reading out the RTI Act and said it exempted defence documents from disclosure.
Rafale deal has already been the political flash point. On one hand, the Congress has relentlessly accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of crony capitalism and corruption, pointing — among other things — to the choice of Reliance Defence as an offset partner of the jetmaker, Dassault Aviation.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says India felt the absence of Rafale fighters as tensions with Pakistan escalated last week.
Supreme court has already cleared the deal but a review petition has been filed by Prashant Bhushan and his associates. On this, Attorney General Venugopal told the court on Wednesday that judicial review of the Rafale case would affect future defence purchases.
Venugopal said the court shouldn’t get into the Rafale issue, as any observation by it would be used by the Opposition to destabilise the government.
The million dollar question is that how can the government lose such important documents? Was it their carelessness or they deliberately hiding it? Whatever be the reason, now the government has started blaming public servants for the leak. The ultimate point is that such documents do exist which can topple the ‘clean deal’ claim of the government. Let’s see how the story unfolds.