Congress Parliamentary Party leader Mallikarjun Kharge addresses the media during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on December 14.(PTI Photo)
Congress Parliamentary Party leader Mallikarjun Kharge addresses the media during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on December 14.(PTI Photo)

‘How can entire para be typo’: Mallikarjun Kharge seeks JPC in Rafale deal

Last Saturday, the defence ministry had filed an application before the Supreme Court for the correction of a paragraph in its order on the Rafale jet fighter deal.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 19, 2018 05:08 PM IST

Less than a week after the government had asked the Supreme Court for a correction in its order on the Rafale jet fighter deal, the Congress has continued to keep up the pressure on the government.

“We want a JPC as we’ll only get to know everything when Parliament members sit and look into the files. A JPC was formed in Bofors and 2G cases also. How can there be a typo? Had it been one word it would’ve been understandable, entire paragraph can’t be a typo,” Congress Lok Sabha floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge told ANI on Wednesday.

Last Saturday, the defence ministry had filed an application before the Supreme Court for the correction of a paragraph in its order on the Rafale jet fighter deal.

Though the court’s ruling effectively vindicated the government’s stand that due process had been followed in reaching the Rs 59,000 crore deal, and had said that there was no reason to order a probe by the CBI.

However, the Congress pointed out that the judgment had referred to the government’s stand that the pricing details had been shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, and that the government auditor had submitted a redacted report to parliament. It also indicated that parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had examined the report.

That error had been picked up by the petitioners and the opposition which had claimed that the government had misled the court with its original submission.

“How does the Supreme Court judgment have this line that Rafale pricing has been examined by the PAC. Now, we have to ask the government, where is this CAG report?” Congress president Rahul Gandhi had said at that time.

The original paragraph in the order (paragraph 25) said: “The pricing details have, however, been shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General (hereinafter referred to as CAG), and the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee… Only a redacted portion ...was placed before the Parliament and is in public domain.”

In its submission asking for a correction, the defence ministry had said that the court seems to have misunderstood it, which was, it added, “in the form of bullet points”. According to the ministry, the “second bullet point” read: “The Government has already shared the pricing details with the CAG. The report of the CAG is examined by the PAC. Only a redacted version of the report is placed before the Parliament and in public domain”.

The petition had argued that the use of the word “is” was “a description of the procedure usually followed” and asked the court to replace “has been” in paragraph 25, which seems to suggest that the act has already taken place, with “is”.

Ideally, of course, the government’s original submission should have used “will be” instead of “is” to make things clear.

“They have given wrong information to the court and on the basis of that information, the court has given its verdict. Now, I will request all the PAC panel members to fix a meeting to summon the attorney general and the Comptroller and Auditor General. We want to ask them when did they submit the Rafale report to the House and when did it come to the PAC, when did they come to give evidence, and when did we present the PAC report to Parliament?” Kharge had said on Saturday.

Responding to Congress’ allegations of misleading the court and over which the party has been stalling the functioning of Parliament, Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said at that time that the error was a technicality.

“He is going into technicality, I am going on substance. The court verdict is in 34 para(graph)s. It has dealt with all the issues (raised by Rahul). If he (Rahul) wants to find faults to do politics, I have nothing to say,” Prasad had said.

Arun Jaitley had earlier too responded to the Congress’ demands for a JPC saying that the Supreme Court judgement was clear and that the demand for a JPC probe was intended to prevent a discussion in Parliament.

“The creators of falsehood will still persist with falsehood even at the cost of their own credibility. Only their captive constituencies will clap,” he had written in a blog post on his site.

 

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