Reacting to SC order on Rafale case, defence ministry says petitioners trying to present a ‘selective and incomplete picture of internal secret deliberations’ on national security matters

New Delhi: Hours after the Supreme Court agreed to hear review petitions in the Rafale case, the defence ministry Wednesday said petitioners were using documents with the “intention to present a selective and incomplete picture of internal secret deliberations” on matters related to national security.

In a statement, the ministry also said the government’s “main concern” was that sensitive and classified information is coming out in public.

The Supreme Court had earlier in the day unanimously agreed to review its December 2018 judgement against a court-monitored probe into the Narendra Modi government’s acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

The court said the Rafale review petitions will be heard on merit, and ruled that the “sensitive” documents submitted as evidence by petitioners were admissible, dismissing the central government’s objection to their use.

‘SC’s December 2018 Judgement Was Well-Reasoned’

The ministry, in its statement, described the Supreme Court’s 14 December 2018 ruling as a “well-reasoned judgement”.

“Supreme Court by a well-reasoned judgement and order dated 14th December, 2018 had already dismissed the Writ Petitions,” the statement issued by defence ministry spokesperson Col. Aman Anand stated.

It added that in the review petitions, the petitioners have relied upon the documents, some of which could not have been placed in public domain.

“The Central Government raised an objection that while considering Review Petitions, the said documents may not be considered as they are classified…The Honourable Court has decided to look into the documents also while deciding the Review Petitions. The Review Petitions are pending and are yet to be heard,” the statement said.

The ministry “reiterated” that the petitioners are using 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 ministry argued that the documents presented by the petitioners have failed to bring out how the issues were addressed and resolved and how necessary approvals of the competent authorities were taken.

“These are selective and incomplete presentation of the facts and records by the petitioners,” the ministry said.

‘Provided All Information To SC, CAG’

The government claimed it had provided all the requisite information as desired by the Supreme Court and also to the petitioners as per the directions of the apex court. It said it also provided records and files as required by the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India).

“The main concern of the Government is relating to availability of sensitive and classified information concerning national security in the public domain,” it said.

In December 2018, the top court had thrown its weight behind the decision-making process of India’s deal with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft and dismissed all the pleas challenging it.