68th Day Of Lockdown

Maharashtra65168280812197 Tamil Nadu2024611313157 Delhi173877846398 Gujarat1635692321007 Rajasthan83654855184 Madhya Pradesh78914444343 Uttar Pradesh77014651213 West Bengal48131775302 Andhra Pradesh3461228960 Bihar3359120915 Karnataka292299749 Telangana2499141277 Jammu and Kashmir234190828 Punjab2197194942 Odisha17239779 Haryana172194019 Kerala120957510 Assam9361044 Uttarakhand493794 Jharkhand4621914 Chhatisgarh4471021 Chandigarh2891994 Tripura2711720 Himachal Pradesh223634 Goa70420 Manipur6060 Puducherry57230 Nagaland3600 Meghalaya27121 Arunachal Pradesh310 Mizoram110 Sikkim100
Opinion DC Comment 08 Mar 2019 Rafale in SC: A-G is ...

Rafale in SC: A-G is using bullying tactics

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Mar 8, 2019, 7:17 am IST
Updated Mar 8, 2019, 7:17 am IST
Let us hope the government isn’t suppressing the Rafale papers and passing the matter off as theft.
In the earlier judgment, the Supreme Court had held that “broadly speaking” the government had gone by laid-down procedures in the Rafale purchase.
 In the earlier judgment, the Supreme Court had held that “broadly speaking” the government had gone by laid-down procedures in the Rafale purchase.

Attorney-general K.K. Venugopal’s statement in the Supreme Court in the Rafale case on Wednesday — urging the court to pay no heed to sensitive documents in the media picking holes in the government’s case of going strictly by the playbook — is astounding. The A-G said the documents which appeared in the media were “stolen”. As such, he held that the court should not allow the review petition against the court’s ruling in the government’s favour in December 2018 as the petition relies on documents illegally obtained by two media companies. In the earlier judgment, the Supreme Court had held that “broadly speaking” the government had gone by laid-down procedures in the Rafale purchase. The court’s understanding derived from documentation it got from the government in a “sealed cover”. It is evident that particular aspect had rendered the exercise non-transparent.

In January, articles — based on defence ministry papers — appeared in the press indicating that the government had violated procedures in the Rafale purchase. The petitioners seeking review of the December 2018 ruling — former BJP ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, and prominent social activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan — used these documents to show that the government had denied the relevant documents to the Supreme Court, and the court had been misled into thinking due procedures were followed. Members of the Indian Negotiating Team (INT) officially complained, the leaked documents suggest, that the Prime Minister’s Office flagrantly interfered (without jurisdiction) to the detriment of the Indian team’s negotiating stance. Even the “benchmark price” suggested by the INT was scuppered through the PMO’s intervention, in which NSA Ajit Doval appeared to be playing a significant role, and this hurt the national exchequer. Other violations were pointed out too, including the doing away of the standard anti-corruption clause after the Cabinet Committee on Security had cleared the aircraft deal. It is surprising that the A-G did not stop at urging the court not to heed illegally acquired or “stolen” documents. He proceeded to say that the government could invoke the Official Secrets Act to prosecute the media platforms in question, and the lawyer presenting the petitioner’s case, namely Mr Bhushan. These are plain bullying tactics. The government’s case on Rafale has come under serious questioning step-by-step.

 

The threat to gag the media can only make things worse. Initially, the business house which the government appeared to promote as India’s principal offset partner in the Rafale deal had issued threats to the press and to the Opposition parties to stop the public questioning. When that proved ineffective, the government has stepped in. The A-G must clarify if only the published Rafale papers were “stolen”, or others too. Let us hope the government isn’t suppressing the Rafale papers and passing the matter off as theft.

...




ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT