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SC can’t use ‘leaked’ papers, says Centre

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New Delhi: On the eve of a crucial hearing on the Rafale jet deal, the Centre urged the Supreme Court not to rely on the photocopy of the documents attached in the review petitions as these are “sensitive to national security” and those who conspired in photocopying the secret papers have committed theft and put the security in jeopardy by leaking them.

Defence secretary Sanjay Mitra, in a brief affidavit filed , said “Those who have conspired in this leakage are guilty of penal offences including theft by unauthorised photocopying and leakage of sensitive official documents affecting national security.”

The unauthorised photocopying of such documents has adversely affected the sovereignty, security and friendly relations with foreign countries, the Centre said, urging the Supreme Court that these documents be removed and review petitions dismissed.

 

“The documents presented by the petitioners are failing to bring out how the issues were addressed and resolved and necessary approvals of the competent authorities taken. The selective and incomplete presentation of the facts and records by the petitioners are intended to mislead this court into deriving wrong conclusions, which is very damaging to national security and public interest,” said the affidavit.

The Centre said that since the review petitions against the judgment dated December 14, 2018 (giving clean chit to the Rafael deal) had been widely circulated and are available in public domain, the same are available to the enemy/our adversaries and “this puts national security in jeopardy”.

The ministry said an internal inquiry, launched on February 28, is in progress over the leakage of sensitive documents and it is of “utmost concern” to find out where the leakage took place.

The affidavit filed by the ministry said documents attached by the petitioners —- former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie — as also activist advocate Prashant Bhushan relate to war capacity of combat aircraft.

The ministry said secrecy was envisaged in various agreements that the Centre had entered into with France and others concerning matters of national security. Last week the attorney general K.K. Venugopal asserted that the documents attached by advocate Prashant Bhushan which were published by a newspaper were stolen materials and should not be taken on record.

Later, the A-G clarified that documents were not stolen but only photocopied and leaked. The Centre’s present affidavit maintained that the documents were photocopied and removed.

The Centre said, “It is of utmost concern to the Central government to find out where the leakage took place so that in future the sanctity of decision-making process in governance is maintained. The petitioners are using unauthorisedly accessed documents with the intention to present a selective and incomplete picture of internal secret deliberations on a matter relating to national security and defence.”

In this context, the performance audit report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on Capital Acquisition in Indian Air Force is already presented to the Parliament, the ministry said.

These documents belong to a class, which the government is entitled to claim privilege under Section 123, 124 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, (which says no one shall be permitted to give any evidence derived from unpublished official records relating to any affairs of the state).

Therefore, the petitioners have no authority whatsoever to produce the same before this court without the explicit permission of the government, the affidavit said.


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National

Ayodhya on high alert following intelligence inputs

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Ayodhya: Amid VIP movements, Ayodhya has been put on high alert soon after intelligence inputs indicated a possible terror attack in the city.

“We have put more force into action. The force has been alerted. Also, intelligence officials in the civil dress have come here. They are checking all hotels, restaurants and railway stations. The police force is vigilant and keeping a track of all the movements,” Anil Kumar Sisodia, Superintendent of Police City, told ANI.

This comes ahead of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya on Sunday along with his party MPs.

 

According to reports, the security has also been heightened keeping in mind the hearing on 2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack on June 18.

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Seven died while cleaning hotel sewer in Vadodara

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Vadodara: Seven persons, including four sanitation workers, died due to asphyxiation on Saturday while cleaning sewer of a hotel in Gujarat’s Vadodara district, officials said.

The incident happened at a hotel in Fartikui village in Dabhoi tehsil, about 30 km from Vadodara city. Three employees of the hotel were also among those killed.

“When one sanitation worker failed to come out of the manhole, others went inside. All of them died due to asphyxiation,” district collector Kiran Zaveri told PTI.

 
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Manmohan retires from Rajya Sabha

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New Delhi: For the first time in 28 years, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s name ceased to be part of the list of members of the Rajya Sabha on its Web site, and was included in the list of former members of Parliament.

With the Congress lacking the numbers in the Assam legislature to ensure his re-election, 86-year-old Dr Singh retired from the Rajya Sabha.

Dr Singh, then finance minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government, had debuted in the House on October 1, 1991, from Assam and represented the state for five consecutive terms. He was the leader of the House during his 10 years as PM, and leader of the Opposition from 1998 to 2004.The former PM would now need to wait for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, an ally of the Congress, to send him to the Rajya Sabha next month or until the next biennial elections in the Upper House in April 2020 when 54 MPs retire.

 

Five Rajya Sabha members from Tamil Nadu retire in July. The DMK, along with its allies, has the strength in the state legislature to get at least three elected to the Rajya Sabha. It has promised one seat to MDMK chief Vaiko.

However, sources said the DMK and the Congress have not had any discussions on the issue.

The Congress could also hope to send Dr Singh to the Upper House from Gujarat if elections to fill the two vacancies from the state take place together.

The vacancies are on account of two Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat, Amit Anilchandra Shah and Smriti Zubin Irani, being elected to the Lok Sabha. Shah has debuted in the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar while Irani is the Lok Sabha member from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress’s numbers in the Gujarat assembly would ensure the party wins one of the two seats, the other going to the BJP, if elections to the two seats are held jointly.

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