Senior journalists, lawyers and politicians condemned the government’s threat of invoking Official Secrets Act against The Hindu’s N Ram for publishing investigative stories on the Rafale deal.
The Union government earlier on Wednesday, 6 March told the Supreme Court that documents related to the Rafale aircraft deal were stolen from the Defence Ministry.
Those who put documents on the Rafale deal in the public domain are guilty under the Official Secrets Act and the contempt of court, Attorney General K K Venugopal told a a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
An investigation into the theft is on, the attorney general said on a day the The Hindu published another article on the fighter jet deal.
The bench, which also included justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, was hearing a batch of petitions seeking a review of its 14 December verdict dismissing all the pleas against the deal inked by India to procure the French fighter jets.
Senior journalists Prannoy Roy and Shekhar Gupta took to Twitter to condemn the threat by the Union government of invoking the Official Secrets Act against N Ram.
Rajdeep Sardesai also reacted to the government threat.
Defence journalist Shiv Aroor called it a ‘deeply stupid decision’.
Others also reacted to the threat of Official Secrets Act. Senior journalists Siddharth Vardarajan and MK Venu questioned the threat. Venu also said that it would be a draconian move by the Modi government.
Reacting to the events of Wednesday, senior journalist Barkha Dutt said that by saying that the documents had been stolen, the AG had validated N Ram’s report.
Supreme Court lawyer and Congress spokersperson Jaiveer Shergill said that the threat would not put the lid on the ‘open secret of corruption’.
Lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan said that such intimidation of petitioners amounted to criminal contempt.
Supreme Court advocate Karuna Nundy also tweeted in favour of N Ram.
‘They Cannot Curb Freedom & Rights of the Press as per Their Convenience’: Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the Centre of trying to throttle the voice of media by threatening to invoke Official Secrets Act against N Ram.
Indian politician and leader Subramaniam Swamy said that filing the case against any media, specially The Hindu would be a political disaster at the moment.
Committed to Protecting These Source: N Ram
N Ram refused to disclose his sources and said the documents related to the Rafale deal were published in public interest.
"You may call it stolen documents...we are not concerned. We got it from confidential sources and we are committed to protecting these sources. Nobody is going to get any information from us on these sources. But the documents speak for themselves and the stories speak for themselves," Ram told PTI.