Monday, September 17, 2007

Suppressio veri, suggestio falsi

The reason why Latin, a now extinct language, is still used in some form or the other, is because it has a remarkable facility for stating an issue in the most direct and coherent manner. That is why it is a favourite of lawyers and judges. The title of my previous blog, too, was a Latin phrase. Perhaps this is an effort to try and be as clear as possible on the vexed matter of the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Because the deal involves an American statute (the Hyde Act), a technical agreement, the Indo-US 123 Agreement, safeguards and an additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines, it is easy to mislead the man-on-the-street. A number of politicians and commentators have taken recourse to selective reading of the text or giving an unconscionable spin to phrases and clauses. In some cases it is a case of suggestion of a falsehood leading to the suppression of truth (the meaning of the phrase we have cited).
To my mind two articles on the deal in The Hindu bring this out. The first was one by Brahma Chellaney, a commentator on strategic affairs and author of a study on the earlier Tarapur agreement. The second is a rejoinder by Kapil Sibal, a minister in the UPA government and a noted lawyer. Read both for yourself to understand what I am trying to get at.

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