Rafale plea, Rahul Gandhi case to be heard on May 10

The SC had on April 10 dismissed objections over the admissibility of leaked documents petitioners had cited for seeking a review of its December judgement rejecting a plea for a court-monitored probe into the purchase of the jets.
The Supreme Court (SC) is expected to take up the Rafale contempt case on Monday a week after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi offered to file a fresh affidavit for attributing his political slogan “Chowkidar chor hai” to the top court.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
The Supreme Court (SC) is expected to take up the Rafale contempt case on Monday a week after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi offered to file a fresh affidavit for attributing his political slogan “Chowkidar chor hai” to the top court.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Updated on May 07, 2019 12:52 AM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent

The Supreme Court said on Monday it will hear a review petition on its verdict on the Rafale jet deal on May 10, when it will also take up a contempt petition against Congress president Rahul Gandhi for attributing his political slogan “Chowkidar Chor Hai” to the top court.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said on Monday that he was perplexed that the two matters were not listed together and carry different dates while they were ordered to be heard together.

The matter will be heard on the day before the top court’s summer recess.

The top court had on April 10 dismissed objections over the admissibility of leaked documents petitioners had cited for seeking a review of its judgement from December last year rejecting a plea for a court-monitored probe into the purchase of the 36 fighter jets.

The contempt case against Rahul Gandhi has been filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) Meenakshi Lekhi for incorrectly attributing the slogan to the preliminary verdict of the top court in the Rafale case. Lekhi had asked the court to initiate criminal contempt action against Gandhi for twisting the top court’s April 10 judgment to claim that the court declared Prime Minister Narendra Modi guilty of corrupt practices in purchase of the Rafale aircraft.

Gandhi had apologised for misquoting the Supreme Court at the previous hearing. The court, however, had asked him to give a written apology and was not convinced by Gandhi’s earlier affidavit.

On December 14, the Supreme Court dismissed all petitions seeking a court-monitored probe of the Rs 59,000 crore contract for Rafale fighter planes made by Dassault Aviation of France, saying that there was no reason to doubt the decision-making process. The petitioners had alleged fiscal malfeasance and commercial favouritism in the deal.

The review petitions have been filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan in the Rafale case claiming the December 18 verdict in the case contained errors and relied on the government’s incorrect claims in an unsigned note given in a sealed cover.

Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh and lawyer Vineet Dhanda, too, have filed two more review petitions.

The Centre has filed an affidavit last Saturday in the case, saying any review in the case would tantamount to questioning the government’s sovereign decision-related to national security and defence.

The government has said the claims made in the review petitions are “scandalous, false, baseless and bereft of any particular material”. The affidavit said the ruling had no apparent “error warranting its review”.

It said the Prime Minister’s Office monitoring the progress of the deal for 36 Rafale jets could not be “construed as interference or parallel negotiations”.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s decision to enter an $8.7 billion government-to-government deal with France to buy 36 Rafale warplanes was announced in April 2015, with an agreement signed a little over a year later. This replaced the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime’s decision to buy 126 Rafale aircraft, 108 of which were to be made in India by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

The deal has become controversial with the opposition, led by the Congress, claiming that the price at which India is buying Rafale aircraft now is Rs 1,670 crore for each, three times the Rs 526 crore, the initial bid by the company when the UPA was trying to buy the aircraft. It has also claimed the previous deal included a technology transfer agreement with HAL.

The NDA has not disclosed details of the price, but the UPA deal, struck in 2012, was not a viable one, former defence minister Manohar Parrikar has previously said, implying that it would have never been closed and that, therefore, any comparison was moot. Indeed, the UPA was not able to close the deal till 2014, largely over discussions related to pricing of items not included in the initial bid.

The deal has also become controversial on account of the fact that one of the offset deals signed by Dassault is with the Reliance Group of Anil Ambani. The Congress claims the earlier deal was scrapped and a new one signed just to provide Ambani with an opportunity for an offset deal. Both the government and Reliance have repeatedly denied this.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, January 20, 2022