SC dismisses review pleas in Rafale fighter jets deal case

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NEW DELHI: In a major relief for the Narendra Modi-led government, the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the review petitions challenging its verdict in the Rafale case passed on December 14, 2018, upholding the 36 Rafale jets deal.


A three-judge bench presided by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph passed the order on a batch of petitions seeking review of its December 14, 2018 verdict which had upheld purchase of 36 Rafale jets by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government from France.

"We cannot lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with a contract. This court did not consider it appropriate to conduct a roving inquiry in an Article 32 petition," said SC in its ruling.

 "We don't feel necessary to order FIR or roving inquiry into Rafale deal case," the top court added.

The court order comes as a huge relief for the Modi government, which received a lot of flak over the deal after some leaked documents related to the deal surfaced earlier.

On December 14 last year, the Supreme Court 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.

The petitioners 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.

On May 10 last year, the top court had reserved the order on their pleas.

 

With inputs from ANI

Image credit: NDTV

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