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Petitioners using ‘stolen’ documents with an intention to present selective and incomplete picture of Rafale Deal: Defence Ministry

Immediately after the Hindu report, ANI had published the full document, which had proved that N Ram had used a cropped version of the document in his article.

The Union government has responded to the Supreme Court order to allow the admissibility of three documents as evidence in re-examining the review petitions concerning the Rafale deal, reports ANI.

In a press statement, the Defence Ministry has reiterated that the petitioners are using the “stolen” documents with an intention to present a selective and incomplete picture of the internal secret deliberations on the matter pertaining to country’s 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 a selective and incomplete presentation of the facts and records by the petitioners,” said Defence Ministry according to ANI.

The Defence Ministry further emphasised that the government had provided all the requisite information as desired by the Supreme Court and had also provided all records and files as required by Comptroller and Auditor General AG.

“The main concern of the Government is relating to the availability of sensitive & classified information concerning National Security in the public domain,” said the statement released by Ministry of Defence.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court while hearing the issue of Rafale review petition had dismissed the preliminary objection raised by the Centre with regard to the admissibility of the secret documents annexed to review petitions. The Supreme Court had allowed the admissibility of three documents in Rafale deal as evidence in re-examining the review petitions filed against the earlier Supreme Court judgment of December 14th refusing to order probe in procuring 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

The Supreme Court was hearing five Rafale review petitions, mainly on the issues of the admissibility of “stolen” Rafale documents as evidence and the claim of privilege raised on them by the government.

The Union government represented by Attorney-General KK Venugopal had argued that the review petition should be dismissed at the preliminary stage itself because they were based on “stolen” documents published in newspapers like The Hindu.

In March, the controversial left-wing lawyer Prashant Bhushan wanted to file an eight-page note, which was allegedly “stolen” from the defence ministry and later published by N Ram of the Hindu. N Ram had published a note from the Indian Negotiation Team of the Rafale deal to allege that NDA deal for Rafale is costlier than the abandoned UPA deal.

In order to target Modi government, the Hindu had conveniently cropped and digitally manipulated a defence ministry note and later published to project that there was opposition to the Rafale deal in the defence ministry and only the Prime minister pushing for it. In doing so, the newspaper had cropped a vital part in the same document, a note by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

Immediately after the Hindu report, ANI had published the full document, which had proved that N Ram had used a cropped version of the document in his article. After facing a severe embarrassment, the Hindu had to come up with a clarification, saying that it did not doctor the document. In its column Readers Editor, it has claimed that the document published by it was an earlier version, which didn’t include the Defence Minister’s note.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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