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Rafale case: Chief justice Ranjan Gogoi pulls up attorney general amidst courtroom drama

Rafale case: Chief justice Ranjan Gogoi pulls up attorney general amidst courtroom drama
Chief justice Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday asked the government that the Supreme Court should not consider the Rafale case because the method of procuring documents by a newspaper related to the case is wrong.
"Where does it say that the court must ask petitioners to clarify on source and means of obtaining the document?" Gogoi asked attorney general KK Venugopal while hearing a batch of petitions seeking a review of Supreme Court December 14 verdict dismissing all the pleas against the deal procured by India from France.
Former union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan, who had jointly filed a petition, alleged that the centre suppressed crucial facts when the apex court decided to dismiss the batch of PILs against the Rafale deal in December.
The government told the Supreme Court that documents related to the Rafale aircraft deal have been stolen from the defence ministry and threatened The Hindu newspaper with the Official Secrets Act for publishing articles based on them.
Those who put documents on the Rafale deal in the public domain are guilty under the Official Secrets Act and contempt of court, Venugopal said before a three-judge bench headed by Gogoi, which included justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph.
"Assuming there's a PIL when the petitioners have come with unclean hands, with questionable motivations, petitioner has an axe to grind, despite that, even in such cases, courts have been known to take note of the issue and appoint an amicus curiae," Gogoi said.
Gogoi also asked Venugopal to tell the court what action had been taken on theft of documents on the aircraft deal.
The bench also sought to know from the centre what it has done when it alleges that the stories are based on stolen material.
The attorney general also told the Supreme Court that the Rafale case pertains to defence procurement which cannot be reviewed judicially.
Referring to the aerial combat with Pakistan last week, he said the country needs the Rafale jet to defend itself "from F-16 fighter planes that recently bombed us".
"Without Rafale how can we resist them," he said, adding that two squadrons of Rafale fighter jets are coming in flyaway condition. The first one will be in September this year, Venugopal said.
With inputs from PTI.
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