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Modi Govt in SC: Rafale deal papers stolen from MoD

The centre also accused The Hindu newspaper of relying on these classified documents

Wednesday March 6, 2019 5:35 PM, ummid.com & Agencies

Rafale Papers Stolen

New Delhi: Union government headed by BJP leader Narendra Modi on Wednesday told the Supreme Court of India that "secret documents relating to Rafale deal", have been stolen from Ministry of Defence.

During the hearing on a review petition, Attorney General KK Venugopal said that documents relating to the Rafale deal, which advocate Prashant Bhushan has been relying on, were stolen from the ministry of defence, according to news agency PTI.

"These documents were stolen from the Defence Ministry either by former or present employees. These are secret documents and can't be in the public domain," Venugopal said.

Modi government's submission in the court came after leading English daily The Hindu published a series of articles highlighting irregularities in the Rafale fighter jet deal. Copies of the document reportedly were also attached by the petitioners seeking review of the SC verdict pronounced on December 14.

"We are investigating how these documents were stolen," the center said when Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi questioned what action the government had taken.

The centre also accused The Hindu newspaper of relying on these classified documents.

"It is a criminal offence. We are objecting preliminary because secret documents can't be annexed with the petition. Review and perjury petitions must be dismissed," said the Attorney General.

The Supreme Court adjourned the hearing till March 14.

Meanwhile, The Hindu published yet another reports on Rafale deal today saying the deal became more expensive for India because of France's refusal to provide bank guarantees. The report said the deal signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016 for the aircraft and weapons packages for 36 fly-away Rafale fighter jets was more expensive by around Rs. 1,963 crore (Euro 246.11 million) than the estimated aligned cost of the 126 aircraft deal being negotiated by the previous Congress-led government.

The newspaper quotes a report of the Indian Negotiating Team (INT) to the defence ministry on July 21, 2016, and says it reveals how a parallel negotiating track weakened India's position and bolstered the French.

Following today's report in The Hindu Congress party said the time has come to lodge an FIR against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"The corruption and malfeasance in Rafale deal is out in the open. PM Modi misused his office to give benefits to Dassault Aviation and caused loss to the public exchequer," Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters.

"It is now crystal clear that blatant and massive corruption has taken place in the Rafale deal. It is undoubtedly established that Modi misused his office as Prime Minister to grant undue benefit to Dassault Aviation and caused a loss to public exchequer", he said.

"This is a clear cut case under Section 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and different provisions of Indian Penal Code. Time has now come to register an FIR against PM Modi and every other individual so that a time-bound investigation takes place in this entire sage of Rafale corruption reaching the highest echelons of power," he said.

On the other hand, the Modi government defended the deal saying the country needed the Rafale fighters to counter Pakistan's F-16.

"We need Rafale jets to defend our country from F-16 fighter planes that recently bombed us. Without Rafale how can we resist them," the government's lawyer, AG Venugopal argued in the Supreme Court.

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