New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday said it would consider listing of pleas seeking review of its December 14 verdict dismissing the need for an investigation into the deal to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets from France. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said four applications or petitions have been filed in the Rafale matter and one of them is still lying with the registry on account of defect.
“The combination (of the judges) of bench will have to be changed. It is very difficult. We will do something for it,” the bench, also comprising Justices L N Rao and Sanjiv Khanna, said when lawyer Prashant Bhushan sought urgent listing of the petitions in the Rafale case.
Bhushan said that the review petition filed by AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh was defective and other petitions had no defects to be cured. He also said that besides the review petition, an application seeking perjury prosecution against some central government employees for giving misleading information to the court has also been filed.
On December 14 last year, the apex court had dismissed a clutch of PILs, including the one filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and Bhushan, saying there was “no occasion to doubt” the decision-making process of the Centre in the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France.
The trio had moved the apex court Monday seeking initiation of perjury proceedings against central government officials for allegedly giving “false or misleading” information in a sealed cover in the high-profile Rafale case.
The prosecution of the officials has been sought under IPC sections 193 and 195 dealing with the offences of giving false evidence, contempt of lawful authority of public servants and giving false documents in evidence.
“The information that has come into the public domain after the judgement of court was delivered prima facie shows that government ‘misled’ the court on various counts and the basis of the judgement of the court is more than one untruth submitted by the government and suppression of pertinent information.
“The untruths and suppression of information in the ‘notes’ constitute perjury and also contempt as the ‘notes’ were submitted pursuant to the orders of the court,” the plea read. It also said that the note on pricing was not shared with the petitioners.
“From the notes on the ‘decision making process’ and ‘offsets’, and Judgement of the court based on ‘notes’ submitted by the government, more than one untruth and suppressions are apparent,” it said.
The suppression of information by the government deprived the court of complete facts and it led to dismissal of the PILs, the plea said, adding that the errant officials who misled the court be identified and suitably dealt with.
Referring to the CAG’s audit of the deal, the plea said: “There was no CAG report at the time. The government misled the court into relying on non-existent fact/report as basis of its observation on pricing in the judgement.
“Instead of admitting that it misled the court, by way of an application for ‘correction’, government imputes that Justices …have misinterpreted tenses in English grammar in like manner individually and severally.”
The government’s act of stating “untruth” to the court in a sealed cover on ‘pricing’ and its subsequent “scandalous” plea for modification have lowered the “sanctity of judicial proceedings”, it said.
The plea also referred to recent media reports and alleged suppression of “unauthorised parallel negotiations” by the by the PMO and bypassing of the Ministry of Defence and the Indian Negotiating Team.
Advocate M L Sharma was the first petitioner in the case. Later, another lawyer, Vineet Dhanda, moved the apex court seeking a court-monitored probe into the deal. AAP leader Sanjay Singh also filed a petition. After the three petitions were filed, Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan moved the apex court seeking a direction to the CBI to register an FIR for alleged irregularities in the deal.