Attorney General KK Venugopal on Friday claimed that the documents related to the Rafale fighter jet deal were not stolen from the Ministry of Defence and that petitioners seeking a review of the court’s earlier verdict were using “photocopies of the original” papers, PTI reported.
“I am told that the opposition has alleged what was argued [in the Supreme Court] was that files had been stolen from the Defence Ministry,” he said. “This is wholly incorrect. The statement that files have been stolen is wholly incorrect.”
Venugopal said the application filed by Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Prashant Bhushan had annexed three documents, which were photocopies of the original documents. In December 2018, the court had dismissed the need for a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the deal.
Venugopal on Wednesday had told the Supreme Court that the documents used by The Hindu for its recent stories on the Rafale deal – and which the petitioners seeking the investigation have cited – were stolen from the defence ministry. Since the newspaper possibly violated the Official Secrets Act by using these documents for its stories, the attorney general had added, the court should not rely on these documents.
The government had also informed the court that an investigation is under way into the stolen documents.
Venugopal’s statement had led to a political row, with several Opposition leaders demanding a probe into the missing files. “What farce is going on in the country?” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said in a tweet. “Documents are being stolen from the Ministry of Defence itself. This is a very dangerous situation for the country.”
Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said the government should not only investigate how the files went missing, but should also act on those implicated in them. Gandhi had also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of corruption and demanded a criminal investigation against him.