Attorney General KK Venugopal on Friday claimed the Rafale documents were not stolen from the Defence 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 by the government.
His comments in the apex court on Wednesday that Rafale fighter jet deal documents were stolen caused a political row, with Congress president Rahul Gandhi targeting the government over stealing of such sensitive papers and seeking a criminal investigation.
"I am told that the opposition has alleged what was argued (in SC) was that files had been stolen from the Defence Ministry. This is wholly incorrect. The statement that files have been stolen is wholly incorrect," he told PTI, in an apparent damage-control exercise.
Venugopal said the application filed by Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Prashant Bhushant, seeking from the court a review of its verdict dismissing pleas for a probe into against the Rafale deal, had annexed three documents which were photocopies of the original.
Official sources said the AG's use of word stolen was probably "stronger" and could have been avoided.
The government had also warned The Hindu newspapers with a case under Official Secrets Act for publishing articles based on these documents.