Supreme Court To Decide On Classified Rafale Documents Today: 10 Facts

The Centre has told the Supreme Court that the documents filed by the petitioners are "sensitive to national security".

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Supreme Court To Decide On Classified Rafale Documents Today: 10 Facts

Last month, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear review petitions on its previous verdict.

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court will decide today whether classified documents sourced by the media without authorisation can be considered evidence and a basis for re-examining its December verdict, which gave a clean chit to the Narendra Modi government over the deal for Rafale fighter jets. Citing internal notes of the defence ministry, a series of reports published by The Hindu said the ministry had objected to "parallel negotiations" for the jets by the Prime Minister's Office. Pointing to the documents, a series of petitions called for a review of the verdict. Last month, the court said concept of confidentiality in documents has undergone a huge change since the Right To Information Act was put in place.
Here are the top 10 facts in this big story:
  1. The petitioners - activist Prashant Bhushan and former ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie -- want the top court to review its earlier order in view of the fresh documents. Prashant Bhushan has called for a CBI probe into the deal.
  2. The Centre has told the court that the documents filed by the petitioners are "sensitive to national security", those who conspired in photocopying the papers have committed theft and put national security in jeopardy by leaking them to the public.
  3. Petitioner Prashant Bhushan maintained that "if a document is relevant in deciding a fact, how it was obtained becomes irrelevant".  Citing the US verdict on Pentagon papers leak, he said once documents are published, the government can no longer claim privilege.
  4. N Ram -- chairman of The Hindu Publishing Group -- said that the documents were published in public interest, and the media group will fiercely protect its sources.
  5. In its hearing last month, the Supreme Court said, "According to you (the Centre), these documents affect national security and court should not interfere... we have to consider it under the RTI act". "In cases of corruption and human rights violations, even sensitive organisations have to disclose information under RTI," said the court led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
  6. In December, the top court had dismissed petitions alleging that the government had gone for an overpriced deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets to help Anil Ambani's rookie defence firm bag an offset contract with jet-maker Dassault. There was no reason to doubt the decision-making process of the government, the court had said.
  7. A defence ministry internal document cited by The Hindu said "parallel discussions by the PMO have weakened the negotiating positions by the MoD and the negotiating team". In a report, the Hindu also said the deal became more expensive for India because of France's refusal to provide bank guarantees.
  8. The Congress and other opposition parties claim that the Narendra Modi government reworked a UPA-era deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France's Dassault Aviation at a much higher price tag despite objections.
  9. The Centre has also been accused of overlooking state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to award the Rs 30,000-crore offset contract to industrialist Anil Ambani's Reliance Industries -- a move that the opposition terms as crony capitalism.
  10. The Congress manifesto has promised an investigation into the case if voted to power in the Lok Sabha elections, set to take place in seven phases through April 11 to May 19.




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