Rafale plea trio file review petition in Supreme Court
Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie along with advocate Prashant Bhushan approached the Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking review of its December 14 judgment which dismissed all PILs alleging irregularities in the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France.
The apex court had relied upon 'patently incorrect' claims made by the government in an unsigned note given in a sealed cover in the court, they alleged in their review plea.
They said that they were not given an opportunity to be heard on the claims made by the government in the note 'resulting in gross miscarriage of justice'.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had on December 14 dismissed all PILs against the deal between India and France for procurement of the 36 jets, saying there was no occasion to 'really doubt the decision making process' warranting setting aside of the contract.
The top court had rejected the pleas seeking lodging of an FIR and the court-monitored probe alleging irregularities in the Rs 58,000-crore deal, in which both the countries have entered into an inter-governmental agreement (IGA).
The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine medium multi-role combat aircraft manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault-Aviation.
Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan have claimed that the judgment was based on 'errors apparent on the face of the record' and non-consideration of subsequent information which has come to light would cause a grave miscarriage of justice.
Besides seeking a review of the judgment, they have also sought hearing of the plea in an open court.
They said they had made a complaint to the CBI on October 4 last year in connection with the Rafale deal. Since no FIR was lodged by the agency, they had moved the top court seeking direction for registration of an FIR and probe by CBI.
'In the instant case without any investigation by statutory authorities (as sought by the petitioner) or even by way of a commission, the court has erred in prematurely reviewing the contract itself, without even affording an opportunity to the CBI to apprise the court of the status of the complaint that was made by the petitioners...' the review plea said.
It added that the 'judgment relies upon patently incorrect claims made by the government in an unsigned note given in a sealed cover to the court without being shown to the petitioners, which is a violation of principles of natural justice.'
The plea also referred to a paragraph in its judgement in which a reference was made that pricing details have been shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the CAG's report has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). 'This is patently false. The CAG is yet to conclude its audit of the contract. The report has not been finalised so there is no question of it having been examined by the PAC or a redacted report having been placed before the Parliament and being in the public domain,' the plea said.
A day after the judgment was delivered, the Centre had on December 15 last year filed an application in the top court seeking correction in a paragraph in its judgment on the Rafale deal in which a reference was made about CAG report and the PAC.
Regarding the government's application seeking correction in the judgment, the review plea has claimed that the 'said application imputes that three justices misinterpreted that one paragraph in the same manner which is highly improbable'.
The review plea also alleged that the Centre had 'blatantly misled' the court and the 'court has grossly erred in placing reliance on false averments in the note not even supported by an affidavit'.