New Delhi / SC Dismisses review Petitions Against Rafale deal says no wrongdoing in it

Hindustan Times : Nov 14, 2019, 11:45 AM

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to change its December 2018 verdict that dismissed pleas seeking a court-monitored probe of alleged irregularities in the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale fighter jet deal with French plane maker Dassault Aviation.

Dismissing a batch of petitions seeking a review of the order, the top court bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, SK Kaul and KM Joseph said, “ We cannot lose sight of the fact we are dealing with contract pending with government for long. Prayer made by petitioner was for registration of FIR and CBI enquiry...this is not a fresh examination as they were considered earlier on merit.”

Justice KM Joseph, though concurring with the order, authored his own view saying probe agencies can go ahead and investigate the matter on their own.

The bench had earlier reserved its verdict on the review petitions on May 10. Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, and lawyer Prashant Bhushan were among those who had filed the review pleas.

In its arguments on May 10, the government argued that nowhere in the world do courts scrutinise agreements related to defence purchases and opposed the reopening of the Rafale case. Sinha, Shourie, and Bhushan had also sought perjury proceedings against the Centre for allegedly suppressing information. They claimed that the government misled the court ahead of its December 2018 verdict.

The petitioners accused the government of deliberately concealing crucial notings related to the deal. They maintained that this included a dissent note of three members of the Indian negotiating team, alleging that it vitiates the December 2018 verdict and necessitates a criminal inquiry into the matter.