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"Didn't Say That Rafale Documents Were Stolen; Meant Petitioners Used Photocopies Of Secret Documents", AG Clarifies

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
8 March 2019 4:03 PM GMT
Didnt Say That Rafale Documents Were Stolen; Meant Petitioners Used Photocopies Of Secret Documents, AG Clarifies
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The Attorney General K K Venugopal today denied having submitted in the Supreme Court that Rafale documents were stolen, and said that the Opposition parties misinterpreted his submissions."I am told that the opposition has alleged what was argued (in SC) was that files had been stolen from the Defence Ministry. This is wholly incorrect. The statement that files have been stolen is...

The Attorney General K K Venugopal today denied having submitted in the Supreme Court that Rafale documents were stolen, and said that the Opposition parties misinterpreted his submissions.

"I am told that the opposition has alleged what was argued (in SC) was that files had been stolen from the Defence Ministry. This is wholly incorrect. The statement that files have been stolen is wholly incorrect," he told Press Trust of India.

He added that what he meant was petitioners used "photocopies of the original" papers deemed secret by the government.

On Wednesday, the Attorney General had urged the court to not to rely on the reports published by media on Rafale deal as they were "stolen" from the government.

"I have an objection! These documents were stolen from the Defence Ministry by some former employee and the investigation is ongoing. These documents are marked secret and were published by two newspapers...this is an offence under the official secrets act. We would be launching prosecution", the AG had said taking objection to Prashant Bhushan referring to reports in The Hindu on Rafale deal.

This had led to a debate between the bench and the Attorney General as to whether sstolen documents could be used in evidence, if they are otherwise relevant. Justice K M Joseph from the bench had asked the AG whether it was not a settled position under the Evidence Act that illegally procured documents were admissible in evidence.

The bench had also asked the AG as to what steps were taken by the Government after the documents were found to have been published without authorization. To this the AG replied that he will "find out".

PTI quoted official sources as saying the Attorney General's use of word stolen was probably "stronger" and could have been avoided.

The opposition has seized on the submissions of the AG,with Congress president Rahul Gandhi targeting the government over the theft of such sensitive papers and seeking a criminal investigation. "Gayab ho gaya (it is gone) will be the government's new tagline," Rahul Gandhi had commented yesterday. BSP chief Mayawati, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and NCP's Sharad Pawar too had taken a dig at the government.

The AG's clarification today comes in this backdrop, as an apparent exercise of damage control.

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