File photo of a Rafale fighter aircraft | PTI
File photo of a Rafale fighter aircraft | PTI
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New Delhi: Hours after the Supreme Court agreed to hear review petitions in the Rafale case, the defence ministry Wednesday said petitioners were using documents with the “intention to present a selective and incomplete picture of internal secret deliberations” on matters related to national security.

In a statement, the ministry also said the government’s “main concern” was that sensitive and classified information is coming out in public.

The Supreme Court had earlier in the day unanimously agreed to review its December 2018 judgment against a court-monitored probe into the Narendra Modi government’s acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

The court said the Rafale review petitions will be heard on merit, and ruled that the “sensitive” documents submitted as evidence by petitioners were admissible, dismissing the central government’s objection to their use.

‘SC’s December 2018 judgment was well-reasoned’

The ministry, in its statement, described the Supreme Court’s 14 December 2018 ruling as a “well-reasoned judgment”.

“Supreme Court by a well-reasoned judgment and order dated 14th December, 2018 had already dismissed the Writ Petitions,” the statement issued by defence ministry spokesperson Col. Aman Anand stated.

It added that in the review petitions, the petitioners have relied upon the documents, some of which could not have been placed in public domain.

“The Central Government raised an objection that while considering Review Petitions, the said documents may not be considered as they are classified…The Honourable Court has decided to look into the documents also while deciding the Review Petitions. The Review Petitions are pending and are yet to be heard,” the statement said.

The ministry “reiterated” that the petitioners are using documents with the “intention to present a selective and incomplete picture of internal secret deliberations on a matter relating to National Security and Defence”.

The ministry argued that the documents presented by the petitioners have failed to bring out how the issues were addressed and resolved and how necessary approvals of the competent authorities were taken.

“These are selective and incomplete presentation of the facts and records by the petitioners,” the ministry said.


Also read: Election Commission denies it banned Tamil book on Rafale deal, asks for report


‘Provided all information to SC, CAG’

The government claimed it had provided all the requisite information as desired by the Supreme Court and also to the petitioners as per the directions of the apex court. It said it also provided records and files as required by the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India).

“The main concern of the Government is relating to availability of sensitive and classified information concerning national security in the public domain,” it said.

In December 2018, the top court had thrown its weight behind the decision-making process of India’s deal with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft and dismissed all the pleas challenging it.


Also read: On ‘secret’ Rafale files, transparency trumps privilege & there’s legal precedent


 

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6 Comments Share Your Views

6 COMMENTS

  1. There seems to be a few issues which needs to be addressed by defense ministry/ govt.
    1) Whether Ministy of Defense or Govt. is handling the whole contract because it seems that PMO has changed the course of negotiation. Ministry of Defense and PMO are two different offices- might be PMO can put its advises but not change the procedure.
    2) There may be reason but the air must be cleared why from 126 to 36.
    It appears that even if 126 were there the delivery of first lot would have been in the same period. What was the actual reason that HAL had to be sidelined and a new concept had to be devised? The statement that French authority would not be providing complete warranty for the HAL built fighter jets is a flimsy one. In such cases the OEM ( original equipment manufacturer) provides the warranty for item supplied and their design and the assembler has to provide warranty for their supplied equipment, workmanship and adhearing to the OEM design.
    3) Clear the doubt that has arisen that there was a parallel negotiation.
    4) Price with back up procedure followed. Even if it is more what is the ground that still the Ministry went for it with reasoning ( Delivery period, national requirement with solid reasoning)
    5) Contract Securities -Letter of comfort is not enough as Desault is not fully controlled by French govt. Desault is to be bounded by French Govt through bank guarantee to their govt. and then Letter of Comfort from Govt. to Govt. OR bank guarantee from manufacturer to Indian govt. or MOD.
    6) How CAG’s computation of price was submitted ( as for Dec ’18 ) prior to submission to Parliamentary committee.?

  2. the degree of technical information available internationally on every aircraft is known . it is useless to talk about ‘secrecy ‘ on this count. unless india has manufactured some top level armaments and security in india. – not available elsewhere in the world – in that case why would it ask the French to incorporate it into a French aircraft. sheer nonsense. or we are buying aircraft with low level of armaments and security.

    • Exactly. If at all there are secrecies they are about price quoted, negotiated, settled, kickbacks commissions, Anil Ambani’s share to redeem him from bankruptcy that is all.

  3. Let the govt give out all the information if it thinks the petitioners are using selective information! It is because govt has a lot to hide that the clouds are not clearing.

  4. The technical specifications of the aircraft, the ISEs, that has never been a point of contention. Many journalists who cover defence related issues probably have all that information. It was there in the RFP papers shared with six manufacturers when they were asked to bid. Now that the apex court is seized of the matter, there is no need to dilate on the issue.

  5. This is not good if all the secret information comes out in public. Though leaks can be good for the purpose of transparency and one should penalise the press. But there has to be a red line drawn on national security interests.

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