The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that documents filed by the petitioners seeking review of its Rafale deal verdict are "sensitive to national security" and relate to war capacity of the combat aircraft. In an affidavit filed in the apex court, the government said the review plea filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie as also activist advocate Prashant Bhushan has been widely circulated and is available to the country's enemy and adversaries.
"This puts the national security in jeopardy. 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/ miscellaneous application and thereby committing theft by unauthorized photocopying of such documents...have adversely affected the sovereignty, security and friendly relations with the foreign countries," the affidavit said.
It said even though the Centre "maintains secrecy", the review petitioners are "guilty of leakage of sensitive information, which offends the terms of the agreements".
"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," the affidavit said.
In an affidavit sworn by Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra, the Centre said: "These documents belong to a class in respect of which privilege is hereby claimed under Section 123 of the Indian Evidence, 1872, but since the petitioners have unauthorisedly and illegally produced the same already and disclosed their contents along with the Review Petition and Misc. Application filed by them and that all details are already in the public domain, it has become imperative for the Union of India to seek removal of these documents from the record of the Review Petition and Misc. Application filed by the petitioners…"
The Centre further said: "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. Additionally, those who have conspired in this leakage are guilty of penal offences under the Indian Penal Code including theft by unauthorised photocopying and leakage of sensitive official documents affecting National Security. These matters are now a subject of an internal enquiry which has commenced on 28.02.2019, and it is currently in progress. In particular, 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".
(With PTI inputs)