Saturday, July 4, 2020

‘No ground to order probe’: Sc on Rafale Review petitions

Straight Line News Network

New Delhi, Nov 14: The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the review petitions that had challenged its December 14, 2018 verdict giving a clean chit to the NDA government in the government-to-government Rafale fighter jet deal with France’s Dassault Aviation.

The apex court bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph had reserved the order on the review pleas on May 10 this year.

Reading out the judgement, Justice S K Kaul said the court can’t have fishing and roving inquiry, as was said on December 14 last year, when the top court had originally dismissed all petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the Rs 59,000 crore contract for the fighter planes made by Dassault Aviation of France.

While dismissing the review petitions, the court added that there was no ground for an FIR.

The Supreme Court on December 14 last year had dismissed petitions seeking court-monitored probe into Rafale fighter jet deal, saying that there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the deal. The top court had also said that it was not its job to go into the issue of pricing of fighter planes.

Subsequently, review petitions were filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and others against the top court’s judgement.

They sought probe into Rs 58,000 deal and registration of first information report (FIR).

Their petition states that the December 14 verdict contained several errors and it relied upon patently incorrect claims made by the government in an unsigned note given in a sealed cover to the court, which is a violation of the principle of natural justice.

They also alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had signed an agreement for 36 Rafale jets on April 10, 2015, without any such requirement being given by the Air Force Headquarters and without the approval of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), which are the mandated first steps for any defence procurement.

The Centre had also filed an affidavit seeking dismissal of the review petition after some internal documents of the Defence Ministry related to the Rafale fighter deal came out in a section of the media.

The Centre asserted that the petitioners had procured privileged documents in an “illegal way” to support their review petitions. It told the court that the documents attached by the petitioners are sensitive to national security and relate to war capacity of the combat aircraft.

The top court had reserved the order on their pleas in May, earlier this year.

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