Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday took a dig at Attorney General KK Venugopal over his varied claims on Rafale, saying he wonders if the thief returned the documents between his "stolen" and "photocopied" versions. Two days after he claimed that the Defence Ministry papers published in the media in connection with the Rafale deal were "stolen", KK Venugopal on Friday claimed that they were not stolen, but the petitioners used photocopies. Referring to Venugopal's claims, P Chidambaram took to Twitter and said, "On Wednesday, it was 'stolen documents'. On Friday, it was 'photo copied documents'. I suppose the thief returned the documents in between on Thursday."
He further said, "On Wednesday, the Official Secrets Act was shown to the newspaper. On Friday, the Olive Branches Act was shown. We salute common sense." The Centre on Wednesday (March 6) told the Supreme Court that documents related to Rafale that have appeared in the media and cited by petitioners seeking a recall of the December 14 ruling giving a clean chit to the government on the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets were privileged documents stolen from the Defence Ministry. On Friday, KK Venugopal told that the Rafale documents were not stolen from the ministry and that what he meant in his submission before the Supreme Court was that petitioners in the application used "photocopies of the original" papers, deemed secret documents by the government.
After Venugopal's first claim, P Chidambaram demanded publication of all documents related to the Rafale aircraft deal, saying Article 19 of the Constitution ensured people's rights regarding freedom of speech and expression. He also said the celebrated judgement of the US Supreme Court in 1971 in the case of the Pentagon Papers was a "complete answer" to the attorney general's arguments that the media cannot publish "so-called secret papers". "We fully support the publication of documents pertaining to the Rafale deal. The argument that they are 'stolen papers' flies in the face of Article 19 of the Constitution," he said in separate tweets.
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