The Indian press condemns the government's move to intimidate the media with Official Secrets Act

  • India’s Attorney General, K K Venugopal, called the use of leaked documents by Indian media houses as “stolen”.
  • The editors guild has raised concerns on the comments and called the move towards curbing press freedom further.
  • The comments were made before the Indian Supreme Court.
The Editors Guild of India has strongly objected to the Indian government’s attempt to term the use of leaked official documents on the Rafale deal by certain Indian media houses including the Hindu as “stolen” under the country’s Official Secrets Act.

On Thursday, India’s Attorney General, K K Venugopal, sought to dismiss a petition in India’s Supreme Court that challenged an earlier verdict by the court on the Rafale deal, on the grounds the documents were a violation of India’s Official Secrets Act and fell in the purview of national security.

In a statement, the guild said although the AG later clarified it wouldn’t pursue action against the journalists who used the documents, it “unequivocally” condemned the AG’s comments before the Supreme Court, adding they amounted to “intimidate the media in general” and curb press freedom.

In December, the Indian Supreme Court dismissed pleas seeking a judicial probe into the government's purchase of 36 Rafale jet fighters from French aircraft maker Dassault. The most recent petition has alleged the government hid crucial facts regarding the deal.

In February, The Hindu published a report citing a “defence ministry note” from 2015 that has raised “objections” on alleged “parallel negotiations” by the Indian government with the French aircraft maker.

See more:
Rafale Deal: India's Supreme Court dismisses pleas seeking a judicial probe into the government's aircraft purchase
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