Official Secrets Act Obnoxious: N Ram After AG’s Remarks on Rafale
Attorney General KK Venugopal had said that the documents published by The Hindu on the Rafale deal were ‘stolen’.
The Rafale deal once again dominated public discourse on Wednesday, 6 March, with the Supreme Court hearing review petitions on its verdict and The Hindu publishing a report on the issue of bank guarantees in the deal.
During the proceedings in the top court on Wednesday, Attorney General KK Venugopal had told the court that the documents published by The Hindu on the Rafale deal were not supposed to be brought in the public domain and that they were 'stolen' from the Defence Ministry.
He further said the publication of the documents amounts to violation of the Official Secrets Act.
Responding to this, the report's author and chairman of The Hindu Publishing Group asserted that all the reports on Rafale that have been published in the newspaper are "absolutely legitimate and justified,” adding that nobody is going to make them reveal their sources.
“There’s been a longstanding discussion on the obnoxious legislation statute called the Official Secrets Act, 1923. Many demands have been made to do away with this obnoxious legacy of the British Raj in India... Whatever criminal action they are willing to take (against us), we are perfectly willing to face it. This kind of talk is an attempt to put pressure on the press to create a climate of fear.”N Ram to BloombergQuint
In the fifth exclusive report published on the Rafale deal on Wednesday, N Ram said the the seven member Indian Negotiation Team submitted its final report on the Rafale deal to the Defence Ministry on 21 July 2016, in which it estimated the cost of loading bank guarantees as 574 million euros.
This made the inter-governmental deal signed by the NDA government in 2016 for the procurement of 36 Rafale jets and weapons packages more expensive by 246.11 million euros than the proposal initiated by the UPA government.
“This (story) reaffirms that it had everything to do with price because loading or not loading bank guarantees in the cost or the pricing makes a huge difference to price and it’s been computed by the Indian negotiating team to be 574 million euros.”N Ram to BloombergQuint
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