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Rafale papers sensitive to national security, photocopy of documents amounts to theft: Govt tells SC

Mar 13 (AZINS) The government on Wednesday filed a fresh affidavit in the Supreme Court in the Rafale case, saying that "unauthorisedly-accessed" documents related to "internal secret deliberations" had been presented in a "selective" manner to mislead the top court and amounted to damaging national security.

The Ministry of Defence sought dismissal of both the review petition and the miscellaneous application in the matter, while contending that "it has become imperative for the Union of India to seek removal of these documents from the record of the Review Petition and Miscellaneous application filed by the petitioners."

It told the apex court that the documents attached by the petitioners in the Rafale review case are sensitive to national security which relates to war capacity of combat aircraft.

The government said the unauthorised photocopy of such documents have "adversely affected the sovereignty, security and friendly relations with the foreign countries."

"Those who have conspired in this leakage are guilty of penal offences including theft by unauthorized photocopying and leakage of sensitive official documents affecting national security. These matters are now subject of an internal enquiry which commenced on February 28," the affidavit said.

"It is of utmost concern to the central government to find out where the leakage took place so that in future the sanctity of decision-making process in governance is maintained," the Defence Ministry said.

"The petitioners are using unauthorisedly accessed documents with the intention to present a selective and incomplete picture of internal secret deliberations on a matter relating to national security and defence," it said.

The affidavit came days after details of some internal documents of the Defence Ministry related to the Rafale fighter deal came out in a section of the media.

"Since the review petition has been widely circulated and is available in public domain, the same is available to the enemy/our adversaries. This puts the National Security in jeopardy," the government contended.

"Without consent, permission or acquiescence of the Central Government, those who have conspired in making the photocopy of these sensitive documents and annexing it to the Review Petition/ Misc. Application and thereby committing theft by unauthorized photocopying of such documents," it added.

The affidavit said secrecy was envisaged in the various agreements that the central government had entered into with the concerned foreign government and others concerning matters of national security.

"Even though the central government maintains secrecy, the petitioners and the deponent of the affidavit of the review petition are guilty of leakage of sensitive information, which offends the terms of the agreements," the affidavit said.

"Petitioners have no authority whatsoever to produce the same before this Court without the explicit permission of the Government of India, Ministry of Defence. In fact, the said documents produced by the petitioners unauthorisedly are also exempt from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (a) of the Right to Information Act, 2005," it said.

"Those who have conspired in this leakage are guilty of penal offences under the Indian Penal Code including theft by unauthorized photocopying and leakage of sensitive official documents affecting National Security," the government said.