Dubbing as "very serious" the alleged involvement of army and civilian officers in illegal sale of arms, the Supreme Court on Friday took umbrage to a junior officer filing an affidavit on behalf of the defence ministry, which was asked to submit it afresh.
"Is the ministry of defence shirking to file an affidavit in the matter," a Bench comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar said and wondered whether the weapons have landed in the hands of "dacoits".
The Bench was anguished that the affidavit on behalf of the ministry of defence was filed by an army officer of the rank of Captain. "On such a serious issue how can an officer of the rank of Captain file an affidavit on behalf of the ministry of defence," the Bench said adding there was a need to maintain some "decorum" and higher authority should have filed the affidavit.
"It is a very serious matter. Where are those weapons. Are those in the hands of dacoits," the Bench said while expressing its disappointment over the manner in which Government handled the entire issue.
"We are not satisfied with the affidavit filed on behalf of the ministry of defence. Accordingly, a proper affidavit has to be filed by the Ministry," the Bench said and granted four weeks to the Centre to file a fresh affidavit.
The Bench said only after going through a proper affidavit, it would pass any directions on the PIL filed by advocate Arvind Kumar Sharma who has sought an inquiry either by the CBI or a former judge of the Supreme Court into the alleged racket involving illegal sale of arms and issuance of license.
At the outset, Sharma claimed that the affidavit by the Centre was a total "eyewash" as it has not named any senior officers of the rank of Brigadier and Major General, who were allegedly part of the racket.
Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha described the issue as "serious" but maintained that the PIL was for publicity which evoked strong protest from Sharma, who said he has raised an issue of national security while the government preferred to file an affidavit through a junior army officer.
At this point, the Bench questioned, "How an army officer can file an affidavit on behalf of the ministry of defence? "We cannot go by this affidavit," the bench said and raised objection that in the affidavit it was mentioned that 40 officers sold their weapons but it was also stated that only four top-ranking officials were allegedly involved in the racket of illegal selling of weapons.