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Can cover be sought under national security if crime is committed: SC

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New Delhi, Mar 06: The Supreme Court has begun hearing on the review petitions over its earlier verdict on the Rafale deal.

Rafale documents were stolen from ministry, not admissible says Govt while opposing review

Attorney General K K Venugopal accused an English daily of stealing confidential government from the ministry. The newspaper used documents selectively. These documents are not admissible and having such files is an offence, the AG also said. The government is planning on launching a prosecution, he also said.

The court asked the AG of the Ministry for Defence could file an affidavit stating that documents had been stolen. The AG said that it could be done by Thursday.

The AG said that an offence had been made out under the Official Secrets Act and hence the review be dismissed. Advocate Prashant Bhushan said that the Right to Information Act overrides the Official Secrets Act.

The Bench said if the documents were stolen, then the government should put its 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 correction submission in law.

Earlier, advocate Prashant Bhushan told the court that he had filed a supplementary affidavit. It has a reference to the articles published in an English daily. The court however said it would not look into supplementary affidavits, You proceed on the grounds, the court also said.

The AG said that unless the source of documents is known or lawful, the court cannot look into them. The Bench said it was there two enunciate the law. Now where do we get an authority which says if a documents comes from an unknown or unlawful source, documents cannot be looked into. The Bench also said that even stolen evidence can be looked into, if it found to be relevant.

We can understand you saying that petitioners came with unclean hands. That they got the documents through doubtful sources. But it is another thing to say that the court cannot consider these documents at all, the Bench said.

The court also asked the AG if a cover could be sought under national security if a crime is committed. The AG said that this case is beyond judicial scrutiny.

The court, in its verdict earlier, had refused to order a probe into the deal on the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph will hear the review petitions in the open court.

The court allows for review of its own judgment only when it notices some errors, or if there are violations of the principles of natural justice.

In its December 14 order, the Supreme Court had dismissed petitions seeking a probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the Rafale deal signed two years back, alleging irregularities and corruption in the pact.

The court had said that it does not find any substantial material on record to show that this is a case of commercial favouritism to any party by the Government of India.

On January 2, petitioners in Rafale fighter jet deal case - Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, both former Union Ministers, and advocate Prashant Bhushan had moved the Supreme Court for review of its Rafale judgment of December 14.

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