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Rafale ‘secret’ documents not stolen, petitioners used photocopies: Attorney General

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 9 March 2019, 8:45 IST

Two days after Centre told Supreme Court that the ‘secret’ documents of Rafale fighter jet deal were stolen from the Defence Ministry, the government lawyer Attorney General KK Venugopal has gone back to his words and clarified what he meant was that documents were not stolen, instead petitioners used "photocopies of the original" papers which have been deemed secret by the government.

"I am told that the opposition has alleged what was argued (in the Supreme Court) was that files had been stolen from the Defence Ministry. This is wholly incorrect. The statement that files have been stolen is wholly incorrect," he told news agency PTI, in an apparent damage-control exercise.

The government's top lawyer Attorney General KK Venugopal’s comment that Rafale fighter jet deal was stolen had triggered a massive political row. Congress President Rahul Gandhi targetted Prime Minister Narendra Modi government over the theft of such sensitive papers and seeking a criminal investigation on him.

"Gayab ho gaya (it is gone) will be the government's new tagline," Rahul Gandhi had jeered yesterday. Other than Gandhi, Opposition leader BSP chief Mayawati, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and NCP's Sharad Pawar too attacked the government.\

On Wednesday, Attorney General Venugopal said that the petitioner Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Prashant Bhushan had annexed three documents in their review petitions that were stolen from the ministry. PTI quoted official sources as saying the Attorney General's use of word stolen was probably "stronger" and could have been avoided.

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First published: 9 March 2019, 8:45 IST