In a swift comeback at Rahul Gandhi, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the Congress chief was spreading ‘blatant lies.’ The retort comes hours after Gandhi alleged that the entire government is trying to save PM Modi in Rafale deal. “He (Rahul Gandhi) is inadvertently or deliberately playing into hands of Rafale competitors,” Prasad was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. In a morning press conference, Gandhi said that ‘gayab ho gaya (everything is missing)’ is the new slogan of BJP government. The stinging attack was directed towards NDA leadership after Attorney General KK Venugopal admitted in the Supreme Court that some Rafale files have been stolen from the office of the defence ministry.
“If PM is not guilty, why doesn't he himself agree for an investigation? Why did he refuse to form a Joint Parliamentary Committee,” asked Congress chief. “The problem in India is, there is a criminal investigation only on people who oppose PM Modi. Media is being punished because they are being brave. I'm very proud that they have the guts to stand against Narendra Modi,” Gandhi added. Apart from the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party has also slammed the ruling BJP over stolen Rafale files. “The Modi govt made a sensational disclosure in the Hon'ble Supreme Court that secret documents pertaining to Rafale fighter deal were stolen from the Defence Ministry. Very strange & irresponsible chowkidari. Is national security & interest in the safe hands? Think long & loud (sic),” Mayawati said on Twitter.
The Centre, which accused former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and lawyer Prashant Bhushan of relying on stolen documents to seek review of judgment dismissing petitions on the Rafale fighter jet deal, is facing searching queries from the Supreme Court that also asked, "are these documents untouchable" for consideration by courts. "We can understand you saying that petitioners came with unclean hands. That they got the documents through doubtful sources. But it is another thing to say that the court cannot consider these documents at all. That they are untouchable," a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed.
The remarks by the bench came when Attorney General KK Venugopal insisted that the review petitions and a perjury application filed in the matter has to be dismissed as the petitioners were also averse to disclosing the sources of the documents which were stolen from the Defence Ministry.
The high voltage hearing witnessed the bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, asking the Centre: "When there is allegation of corruption, can the government take shelter under national security?
"If an act of corruption is committed in Rafale deal, will govt take shelter behind Official Secrets Act? I (CJI) am not saying it is committed, but if it is then government cannot take shelter behind OSA."
(With agency inputs)