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Rafale LIVE: Supreme Court Adjourns Case to March 14 After A-G, Petitioners Spar Over 'Stolen Files'

News18.com | March 6, 2019, 4:30 PM IST
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Rafale LIVE: The Supreme Court has adjourned the hearing in the politically sensitive Rafale case after a marathon three-hour hearing in which the government resisted a probe into the deal with France on the grounds that the documents were stolen from the defence ministry and cannot be shown in court as they would affect national security. The government's argument, forwarded by Attorney General KK Venugopal, was vociferously opposed by the petitioners. Prashant Bhushan argued that whistleblowers had given him the entry register of Ex-CBI director Ranjit Sinha and other documents in 2G case when the SC had ordered a probe.

The Supreme Court also came down heavily on the government for citing Pakistan’s use of F-16 fighter jets in the recent aerial confrontation to resist the probe into the acquisition of Rafale fighter jets. Justice KM Joseph questioned Attorney General KK Venugopal if the government would take shelter under national security when the allegations is of grave crime and corruption.
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Mar 6, 2019 3:54 pm (IST)

Before the SC adjourned the Rafale case, petitioner Arun Shourie claimed that anti-corruption clauses in the deal were omitted with retrospective effect overlooking defence ministry's objection.

Mar 6, 2019 3:52 pm (IST)

SC Adjournes Rafale case to March 14: Supreme Court adjourns Rafale case to March 14. Minutes before the adjournment, petitioner Arun Shourie told the Court that in Coalgate and 2G scam cases, he had brought documents from a whistleblower.

Mar 6, 2019 3:51 pm (IST)

Shourie hits out at the government by saying that every person in this country can look into the referred documents but the Court cannot. "Interesting proposition by AG!", Shourie remarks.

Mar 6, 2019 3:50 pm (IST)

Petitioner Arun Shourie begins arguments after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi invites him to argue. Shourie says that the petitioners are here to assist the Supreme Court. 

Mar 6, 2019 3:45 pm (IST)

Prashant Bhushan replies that most of the documents produced in the Supreme Court are from The Hindu, Caravan and Indian Express. He says that he has disclosed most sources except for one document which is from ministry of defence.

Mar 6, 2019 3:43 pm (IST)

CJI tells Prashant Bhushan that if the court accepts AG's arguments, they will reject the documents and hear his review petition without the papers. "If we reject AG's submissions, we will then see how these documents are relevant to decide the review petitions," he said.

Mar 6, 2019 3:33 pm (IST)

Prashant Bhushan counters AG's arguments by explaining how the documents were obtained. He cites how whistleblowers gave him the entry register of ex-CBI director Ranjit Sinha and another documents in 2G which the SC relied upon in ordering probe.

Mar 6, 2019 3:28 pm (IST)

The government clarifies that documents used both by Hindu and ANI were stolen documents and seeks time till tomorrow to submit a report on on action taken by the Govt following the leaks.

Mar 6, 2019 3:13 pm (IST)

"Every statement by this Court is used to destabilise either the Govt or the opposition. Why should the court become a party to such an exercise? This is why I am appealing to this Court to exercise restraint. Defence procurements can't be judicially examined," says AG.

Mar 6, 2019 3:10 pm (IST)

Coming down heavily on the government, Justice SK Kaul then intervenes and says, "If the documents were stolen, the Govt should put its own house in order. It is one thing to say that we should look at these documents with suspicion. But to say we can't even look at those documents may not be a correct submission in law."

Mar 6, 2019 3:07 pm (IST)

The government has once again stressed that the court cannot look into the documents unless the source is known and is lawful. Slamming the govt's statement, KM Joseph says, "There were allegations of corruption in Bofors. Now will you say the same thing that a criminal court shouldn't look into any such document?"We are here to enunciate the law, he tells the govt. "Now where do we get an authority which says if a document comes from an unknown or unlawful source, documents cannot be looked into?"  he adds.

Mar 6, 2019 3:02 pm (IST)

The government tells the Supreme Court that the FIR hasn't been registered so far into stealing of the RafaleDeal documents since the FIR would have to also name the petitioners, Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Prashant Bhushan.

Mar 6, 2019 3:00 pm (IST)

The government once again asserted that Rafale falls outside judicial purview "The petitioners are relying on stolen evidence. Govt cannot come to court every time we have to declare," it reiterated. To this Justice KM Joseph replies, "The issue here is that the law of the country has been broken by corrupted practices. Even stolen evidence can be looked into, provided it is relevent and authentic. You must talk about the law."

Mar 6, 2019 2:47 pm (IST)

Attorney General KK Venugopal tells the Supreme Court that the leaked out documents in Rafale can be looked into by the court only when the source is declared. "Relevancy of the papers can't be sole consideration. They must say whether retired or present officers did it," says AG

Mar 6, 2019 2:42 pm (IST)

The government in return asserts that the apex court can't look into this matter and says it is beyond judicial purview. "Do we have to come to the court to justify when we declare war, when we declare peace?  Do we have to come and seek permission of the court every time when we take steps in the national security?" it asks.  

Mar 6, 2019 2:37 pm (IST)

The government cites the use of F-16s by Pakistan to oppose CBI inquiry into the Rafale deal. "Recent incidents have shown how vulnerable we are. When others have superior F16 aircrafts, should we also not buy better aircrafts. There will be damage done to the country by seeking a CBI inquiry" it says. Justice KM Joseph, in complete disagreement to the statement, then pulls up government and says that issue of national security doesn't arise when question in review is that the plea of investigation hasn't been considered."Are you going to take shelter under national security when the allegations is of grave crime, corruption?" he asks the government. 

Mar 6, 2019 2:34 pm (IST)

Attorney General tells SC that the documents published by The Hindu were not supposed to be in the public domain. "Documents were published by the newspaper by omitting the word 'Secret' at the top. This is in violation of the Official Secrets Act," Venugopal says.

Mar 6, 2019 2:26 pm (IST)

SC Hearing on Rafale Resumes | The SC declines to give hearing to Rafale review petitioner and AAP RS member, Sanjay Singh ,saying the statements made by him on the SC judgment are very derogatory. The SC further told Singh's lawyer that action will be taken against him for this offensive remarks. "We will take actions against you after completion of these hearings and after giving you an opportunity to explain," says CJI.

Mar 6, 2019 2:09 pm (IST)

Reacting to the allegations of stealing confidential government documents, N Ram told CNN-News 18 that whatever has been published by the newspaper  is under public interest." We will uphold freedom of speech and I hope independent media section will stand by what we have written. I cannot comment on the attorney gen's statement but, what we have published is for the public to read," he says, adding, "allegation of stealing was made against those who stole it".

Mar 6, 2019 1:27 pm (IST)

Addressing the media, Surjewala goes on to say that the 36 Rafale fighters the Modi Govt is to procure are much costlier than the 126 jets the UPA was proposing to purchase. "The claims made by Modi govt around the pricing has been junked by the INT report that has now been made public," he says. 

Mar 6, 2019 1:16 pm (IST)

Congress  Accuses PM Modi of Corruption in Rafale Deal | As the hearing on the petitions against the Rafale verdict goes on at the Supreme Court, the Congress is addressing a simultaneous press conference where it is accusing the BJP-led government at the centre of heavy corruption in the Rafale deal. "It is clear that PM Narendra modi misled the people with facts around the Rafale deal with his white lies and he is responsible for the corruption," says Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. 

Mar 6, 2019 12:56 pm (IST)

The Supreme Court, reacting to the allegations of theft made against the English daily The Hindu, asks the Attorney General what steps or actions have been taken by the Govt after the documents were reportedly stolen. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi then asks Venugopal to seek instructions and apprise the steps taken by the govt at 2 PM today.

Mar 6, 2019 12:52 pm (IST)

Govt Accuses The Hindu of Stealing Govt Documents | Citing the Hindu report on the Rafale deal, in which the English daily pointed out major anomalies in the deal, the Attorney General accuses the paper of stealing confedential government  documents from the Ministry. It further alleged that the newspaper used the documents "selectively". "These documents are not admissible. Having these documents is an offence under the secrecy act. The govt is planning to launch a prosecution." KK Venugopal says this is an offence under the Official Secrets Act and hence the review petitions must be dismissed. 

Mar 6, 2019 12:47 pm (IST)

Prashant Bhushan Accuses Govt of Misleading SC in Rafale Judgement | Lawyer- activist and one of the petitioners in the case ,Prashant Bhusan, says there have been serious error of facts in the Rafale judgment of December 14, 2018, and accuses the BJP-led government at the centre of trying to mislead the court."The government should be hauled up for perjury," says Bhushan.

Mar 6, 2019 12:39 pm (IST)

SC declines to accept on record, a letter, given by the Hindu Editor N Ram to Prashant Bhushan regarding the Rafale deal. "Please confine your case to the documents already submitted. We are not going to look into any new document at this stage," it observes. 

Mar 6, 2019 12:38 pm (IST)

Advocate ML Sharma says all review petitions should be junked since nobody has brought on record the CAG report on the Rafale Deal, which stated the acquisition is economical and proved to be less costly.

Mar 6, 2019 12:33 pm (IST)

The Supreme Court hearing on the review of Rafale deal begins. 

Mar 6, 2019 12:20 pm (IST)

SC to Shortly Begin Review of Petitions on Rafale Deal | The Supreme Court will now shortly begin reviewing petitions that seek a review of the Rafale Verdict of December 14,2018 in which the top court gave a clean chit to the modi government on acquiring 36 Rafale jet fighters in a ready-to-fly condition from French company Dassault Aviation. The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph had on February 26 decided to hold an open court hearing of the pleas seeking the recall of its judgment on the Rafale jets on several grounds, including information that has come into public domain after its pronouncement.

Mar 6, 2019 12:09 pm (IST)

The Supreme Court, nevertheless, has asked parties to suggest names of the mediators in case SC decides in favour of mediation. "We intend to pass the order soon," it says. 

Mar 6, 2019 12:07 pm (IST)

The Uttar Pradesh government opposes to mediation in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title case, says it is not advisable "in the given circumstances".

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Rafale LIVE: Supreme Court Adjourns Case to March 14 After A-G, Petitioners Spar Over 'Stolen Files'
File photo of a French aircraft maneuvering during the inauguration of the 12th edition of Aero India 2019 air show at Yelahanka airbase in Bengaluru. (Image: PTI)

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph was hearing the case during which former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan, who had jointly filed the petition, alleged that the Centre suppressed crucial facts when the apex court decided to dismiss the batch of PILs against the Rafale deal in December.

When Bhushan referred to an article written by senior journalist N Ram in The Hindu newspaper, Attorney General K K Venugopal opposed it, saying his write-ups were based on stolen documents and an investigation into the theft is on.

Venugopal said the first write up by the senior journalist appeared in The Hindu on February 8 and there is also a story in Wednesday's edition which was aimed at influencing the proceedings and that amounts to contempt of court.

While Venugopal was seeking dismissal of the review petitions and raising objections to Bhushan's arguments based on the write-ups published in The Hindu, the bench sought to know from the Centre what has it done when it is alleging that the stories are based on stolen material.

Advancing his arguments on behalf of Sinha, Shourie and himself, Bhushan said critical facts on Rafale were suppressed when the petition for an FIR and investigation were filed.

He said that the top court would not have dismissed the plea for FIR and probe into Rafale deal had there not been suppression of facts.

However, Venugopal said the documents relied upon by Bhushan were stolen from the Defence Ministry and an investigation into the matter was underway.

At this point, the chief justice said that hearing Bhushan did not mean that the top court was taking on record the documents on the Rafale deal.

He also asked Venugopal to tell after lunch what action has been taken on theft of documents on the aircraft deal.

The AG also submitted that the documents on the deal relied on by the petitioners were marked secret and classified, and therefore, are in violation of Official Secrets Act.

He sought dismissal of the review petitions and perjury application as they relied on stolen documents and said that today's The Hindu report on Rafale amounts to influencing hearing in apex court and is itself contempt of court.

The bench rose for the lunch break asking Venugopal to apprise it about the whole development related to the stealing of the documents and the investigation conducted by the Centre in the post lunch session.
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