Rafale performs a fly-by at the Aero India 2019 show. (Source: PTI)

Nobody On Earth Can Make Us Reveal Source Of Rafale Documents, Says Hindu’s N Ram

As the Supreme Court started hearing the review petition against its Rafale judgment, the government today targeted the Hindu newspaper for its revelations citing stolen documents, breach of security and risk to national security.

All these are attempts at putting pressure on the press to create a climate of fear, said N Ram, chairman of the Hindu Publishing Group and author of the stories. His latest report is on how the price of the fighter aircraft bought from France’s Dassault Aviation didn’t come down despite India not opting for a government guarantee.

The Rafale files accessed by the Hindu Group didn’t deal with personal lives or sex scandals, nor was the reportage based on a sting operation, Ram told BloombergQuint. The documents were obtained because confidential sources wanted them to be put out in public domain, he said.

The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court began hearing review petitions against its December order that cleared the deal between the India and France for 36 Rafale aircraft. Prashant Bhushan, one of the petitioners, pushed for the entire deal to be investigated under the supervision of the court.

Bhushan referred to details in articles published by the Hindu newspaper. This allegation was rebutted by Attorney General KK Venugopal, who objected to the reports, saying they were based on documents stolen from the Ministry of Defence. These documents, according to the attorney general, were protected by the Official Secrets Act.

According to Ram, everything the Hindu published was legitimate, constitutional and justified. The reports are protected by Article 19 of the Constitution and the Right To Information Act, he said.

The attorney general’s claim that the documents were stolen also validates the authenticity of the report.
N Ram, Chairman, Hindu Publishing Group

Calling the Official Secrets Act obnoxious, Ram said it was a “problem left” by the British Raj. The law, he said, was rarely used in matters of public interest and was only enforced in cases of spying.

Watch the entire discussion here: