(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
English mainstream media is out of breath on the threat of Official Secrets Act being invoked against The Hindu and ANI, and lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Rafale. Two main arguments have been put forward:
1- No Official Secrets Act was invoked when Bofors scandal broke out;
2- It's an attempt to muzzle the freedom of press.
Both analogies are fake as I detail below:
Unlike the Rafale papers, Bofors wasn't a "scoop" by Indian newspapers. Wikipedia says: "In May 1986, a broadcast by a Swedish radio station revealed that bribes of Rs 60 crore had been paid by Bofors to Indian politicians, members of the Congress party and bureaucrats. This was picked by a young journalist from The Hindu, Chitra Subramaniam, who happened to be in Sweden at that time, covering another story."
So back off! Official Secrets Act couldn't have been applied on Bofors since the "leak" had happened abroad. Even if The Hindu published a few original papers thereafter, the ruling Congress party couldn't have invoked Official Secrets Act because of one man--Viswanath Pratap Singh.
Between 1986-1987, as Bofors gathered fire, VP Singh had been shuttled from the finance to defence ministry. As a finance minister, he had earned country's respect. He had reduced gold smuggling by offering police a portion of the recovery. Enforcement Directorate was bestowed with extraordinary powers. Regulation on business was eased; tax fraudsters were dealt with severely.
But then VP Singh made Dhirubhai Ambani and Amitabh Bachchan his target. Wikipedia says Rajiv Gandhi had to sack him for he had gone after industrialists who had supported Congress financially in the past. However, such was Singh's popularity that only a sideways move seemed to have been possible - to the Defence Ministry (in January 1987).
VP Singh was hurt and ready for revenge. He began probing the shady world of defence procurement and murky deals. Bofors scandal had already broken out (as mentioned earlier in this report). VP Singh dug deeper. The word was out that Singh now had critical information on the Bofors scandal (memory of this might have led to Rahul Gandhi's fabrication on ex-Defence Minister Manohar Parrikkar having critical files on Rafale with him). A jittery Rajiv Gandhi dismissed VP Singh from the Cabinet.
Now you see why N. Ram and The Hindu, and the Indian Express, are lying about the Bofors equivalence on the Officials Secrets Act. Could Congress have afforded to slap Officials Secrets Act on VP Singh? Could they have tested the current of hostile waters with both feet???
On Rafale pleas in Supreme Court on Wednesday, our English mainstream media has reported with glee that Supreme Court snubbed Advocate General KK Venugopal on his suggestion that "Defence deals are not administrative deals and should be out of purview of Supreme Court." You wouldn't have read Venugopal's opinion was with a rider: Provided the petitioners are willing to name the source... else it is just an attempt to destabilize the country.
The fact is under Official Secrets Act, a person could be jailed up to 14 years even if he or she has unintentionally endangered the security of the state. By bringing out the pricing of Rafale, the Hindu has opened itself to the charge of arming our enemies with information critical to India's unity and integrity.
Freedom of Press