Rafale: AG Venugopal takes U-turn, says documents were not stolen from the ministry
New Delhi : Attorney General K K Venugopal made a U-turn on Friday over his claims that the crucial documents related to Rafale deal have been stolen from the Ministry of Defence, and threatened to invoke the Official Secrets Act and initiate “criminal action” against two publications and a lawyer.
On Wednesday, appearing before the Supreme Court, Venugopal initially did not name the publications but towards the end of the hearing said “documents in the possession of The Hindu and ANI are stolen documents”. He claimed that a probe is underway.
However, on Friday, the Attorney General told PTI: “I am told that the Opposition has alleged what was argued (in SC) was that files had been stolen from the Defence Ministry. This is wholly incorrect. The statement that files have been stolen is wholly incorrect.”
Later, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted: “Learned AG KK Venugopal told @PTI_News the Rafale documents were not stolen from the Defence Ministry & what he meant in his submission before the Supreme Court was that petitioners in the application used “photocopies of the original” papers, deemed secret by the government.”
On February 8, a report in The Hindu, citing a “Defence Ministry note” of November 2015, stated that the Ministry “raised strong objections to ‘parallel negotiations’ conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) with the French side” in the Rafale deal. ANI released the same note with additional notings.