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Government denies suppressing any information on Rafale deal

In its December judgement, the Supreme Court rejected pleas for a court-monitored probe of the deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale jet fighters made by Dassault Aviation of France, saying it had no reason to doubt that due process had been followed .

india Updated: May 11, 2019 07:07 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
New Delhi
government,rafale deal,rafale
In an affidavit filed before the court opposing the demand to initiate perjury proceedings against the Centre, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government denied allegations of suppressing information(PTI)

A day before the Supreme Court hears the review petitions in the Rafale case, the Centre on Thursday said media reports cannot form the basis for “perjury proceedings” against it. In an affidavit filed before the court opposing the demand to initiate perjury proceedings against the Centre, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government denied allegations of suppressing information.

With regard to the mismatch between certain paragraphs of the December 14 judgment and the Centre’s submission (in a sealed cover) in relation to a purported Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report, the government said it was sought to be corrected with the filing of an application the very next day. The application is still under consideration, government pointed out.

In its December judgement, the Supreme Court rejected pleas for a court-monitored probe of the deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale jet fighters made by Dassault Aviation of France, saying it had no reason to doubt that due process had been followed. The petitioners included former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie. The court noted that the pricing question had already been examined by the CAG and even made its way to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee. The Centre told the court its application seeking the correction had been filed on December 15. The mismatch, it said, was neither a substantial error nor did it affect the main judgment.

“In any case the mismatch does not in any manner either directly or indirectly affect the main judgment and it is not a substantial error as contended since the fact of the matter is that there is no fault found either in the decision making processor in the matter of pricing as concluded by the CAG in its report submitted subsequent to the judgment,” read the affidavit. The government described as “false, baseless and an attempt to intimidate government servants from performing their duty” the contention of the petitioners that its officials had made false statements while submitting information on the decision-making process, offsets and pricing of the Rafale deal pursuant to the orders passed by the court.

On the reliance placed by the petitioners on media reports, the Centre said a case cannot be reopened on the basis of incomplete file notings that formed part of a series of reports in a national newspaper. “Media reports cannot form the basis for seeking initiation of ‘perjury proceedings’ since it is well settled that Courts do not take decisions on the basis of media reports,” read the affidavit. Details of pricing of the jets were not required to be shared by it, the Centre asserted. It denied any “untruth or suppression” in the notes on the decision-making process and the offsets. The affidavit reiterated the government’s position that monitoring of a deal by the Prime Minister’s Office cannot be construed as interference or parallel negotiations.

First Published: May 09, 2019 23:49 IST