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Supreme Court to pronounce verdict on pleas seeking Rafale judgment review on November 14

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The court would also pronounce judgment in a related case of criminal contempt against Rahul Gandhi for wrongfully attributing the phrase chowkidar chor hai to the apex court.

A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, will on Thursday pronounce its verdict on petitions seeking a review of its December 14, 2018, judgment upholding the purchase of 36 Rafale jets by the government.

The court would also pronounce judgment in a related case of criminal contempt filed by BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi against Congress MP Rahul Gandhi for wrongfully attributing the phrase chowkidar chor hai to the apex court. Mr. Gandhi had offered an unconditional apology to the court.

The review petitioners in the Rafale case, who include former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, alleged that the government had concealed crucial facts and misled the apex court into giving a favourable verdict. They had sought the registration of an FIR and a CBI probe into their complaint against the Rafale purchase.

In March, the apex court, in an order, had agreed to examine various documents published in The Hindu to decide the veracity of the allegations against the Rafale purchase.

Also read: SC decision on Rafale case review pleas: Red-letter day for the press, says N. Ram | Investigative reports by N. Ram on the Rafale deal

The government had objected to the review petitions, saying they were only an excuse for a fishing and roving inquiry into a sensitive defence buy.

“Once Supreme Court had come to the conclusion that on all the three aspects ie., the decision-making process, pricing and Indian Offset Partner, there is no reason for intervention on the sensitive issue of purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft by the Indian government, there is no question of registration of FIR much less any investigation by the CBI,” the government had argued.

The government maintained there was no element of criminality as the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report had rubbished claims made that each Rafale jet was priced ₹1000 crore more than the earlier aborted deal by the UPA government with Dassault for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). The government said all pricing details, files, documents and records were made available to the team of the CAG which worked out its own aligned cost.

The government had said an enquiry needed to be launched only if the complaint prima facie discloses commission of a cognisable offence.

The government denied misleading the court into believing that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had submitted its report on the Rafale deal. The petitioners had argued that the court was made to believe this by the government when the reality was there was no such CAG report at that point of time. The CAG report was filed in the Parliament only on February 15.

The government, however, dismissed the error as “misunderstanding of language”. It said the deal was based on the final decisions taken by competent authorities, i.e. the Defence Minister, Defence Acquisition Council, Cabinet Committee on Security.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 7:10:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-to-pronounce-verdict-on-pleas-seeking-rafale-judgment-review-on-november-14/article29960452.ece

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