It seems like the woes of ruling government over Rafale controversy are far from over. The government is invoking the Official Secrets Act to initiate “criminal action” against The Hindu and ANI citing that their reports are based on the papers stolen from the Ministry of Defence.
The petitioners have sought a review of the December 14, 2018 order of the Supreme Court which dismissed all PILs seeking a probe into alleged irregularities in India’s Rafale deal with France. They have also sought perjury charges, saying the Centre suppressed crucial facts when the Supreme Court decided to dismiss the PILs.
The government is hell bent on suppressing any information regarding Rafale deal to come out in the public and it is even up to curb the Freedom of Speech and Expression of the Press.
The Centre is accusing former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and lawyer Prashant Bhushan of relying on stolen documents to seek a review of the judgment dismissing petitions on the Rafale deal. The Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has posed a question to Centre that it is understandable if you say the petitioners got the documents through doubtful sources but you cannot make these documents untouchable for the court, these documents will be reviewed.
Attorney General KK Venugopal insisted that the review petitions and a perjury application must be dismissed without court even reviewing the documents because these documents have been stolen from the Ministry of Defence.
The honorable Bench posed a question: When there is allegation of corruption, can the government take shelter under national security? If an act of corruption is committed in Rafale deal, will the government take shelter behind the Official Secrets Act?”
The government invoking the Official Secrets clearly indicates the devious intentions of shielding the truth from coming out. The article written by senior journalist N. Ramwas was quoted by Prashant Bhushan in his petition and it was opposed by Venugopal saying that it violates the Official Secrets Act.
There is not a shred of doubt that at the time of Bofors scam during the 1980s and 1990s, the ruling party BJP would have completely supported a detailed review of all classified documents in the court and would have rooted for truth coming out in the public. Today, at the time of Rafale scam, the same party is hiding the truth behind the Official Secrets Act.
This same example was brought up during the hearing of this case in the court when the Bench stated: “There were allegations of corruption in Bofors. Now, will you say the same thing — that a criminal court shouldn’t look into any such document in that case? Here we have an open system.”
It is high time that the Freedom of Speech and Expression prevails and the truth regarding Rafale Scam comes to light. It is expected from the Indian Judiciary to neutrally examine the documents and pass the verdict in the best interests of India.