24 hrs before polls, big blow to Modi

24 hrs before polls, big blow to Modi
Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi
NEW DELHI, APR 10 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 4/10/2019 12:10:44 PM IST

 Rafale: SC rejects Centre’s plea, to hear on merit

With just 24 hours before the phase I of Lok Sabha elections, the Narendra Modi-led NDA government was dealt with two major blows.
The first blow came from the Supreme Court after it agreed to hear petitions for a review of its verdict in the Rafale jet deal on the basis of ‘leaked’ secret documents by dismissing its preliminary objections. The second blow came from the Election Commission, which said that it would not allow the release of the PM Narendra Modi biopic.
Supreme Court Wednesday allowed the plea relying on leaked documents for seeking review of its Rafale judgement and dismissed government’s preliminary objections claiming “privilege” over them.
The Centre had submitted that the three privilege documents were unauthorisedly removed from the Defence Ministry and used by petitioners to support their review petitions against the December 14, 2018 judgement of the apex court which dismissed all pleas challenging the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief justice Ranjan Gogoi delivered two separate but unanimous verdicts rejecting objections raised by the Centre that those documents were not admissible as evidence under Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act, and no one can produce them in court without the permission of the department concerned as those documents are also protected under the Official Secrets Act.
Delivering a 58-page unanimous verdict, the top court also went on to say that the publication of the said documents in ‘The Hindu’ newspaper reminded it of the consistent views of the court upholding the freedom of the press in a long line of decisions. 
The court said it will fix a date for hearing the review petitions.
Poll panel bans release of Modi biopic, NaMo TV 
Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday stopped the release of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biopic and also ordered a ban on NaMo TV till the Lok Sabha elections conclude, saying that any material which disturbs a level playing field should not be displayed.
EC has ruled that a film about PM Narendra Modi’s life cannot be released ahead of elections due to begin on April 11. BJP told the EC that it has no connection with the release of the biopic and a ban on it will only curtail the fundamental right. 
But the commission said the film, which contains fictional elements, posed a “serious threat” to ensuring a level playing field for all candidates. It said such a film “may create an impression of truthfulness of content” and could therefore not be displayed on any electronic media or at the cinema.
SC order blows the lid off Modi’s ‘lies’: Congress
Congress on Wednesday said the Supreme Court’s interim order has blown the lid off the “lies” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Rafale deal, and termed it as the first step towards justice with the last being a joint parliamentary committee probe.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi thanked the Supreme Court for rejecting the Centre’s objections over the admissibility of the “leaked” documents cited by petitions seeking a review of the Rafale verdict. Addressing mediapersons in Amethi, he said, “The Prime minister has been claiming that the Supreme Court had given him a clean chit on the Rafale deal. The Supreme Court has clarified and has begun an investigation into the Rafale deal.”
“The Supreme Court has accepted that there was corruption in Rafale and that the Prime Minister has given Rs 30,000 crore to Anil Ambani,” Rahul Gandhi said.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the layers of corruption in the Rafale fighter aircraft deal are now out in the open and that justice will be done as the prime minister can no longer hide behind the veil of “official secrets act”.
“…To hide the lies of Rafale, Modi-ji spoke a hundred lies, but, truth has finally caught up with him and the truth is that ‘chowkidar chor hai’,” he told reporters.
Surjewala said the government and the Prime Minister hid crucial facts and evidence from the Supreme Court, including the price of the aircraft that was increased from Rs 526 crore to Rs 1,600 crore and refused to tell the price to the Supreme Court on the so called ground of breach of national security.
He alleged Modi was directly negotiating the price bypassing the Indian negotiation team was another fact that was hidden from the Supreme Court.
This, he said, resultantly benefitted Dassault Aviation and made it richer by a few hundred crores as noted by the CAG also.
The Congress leader alleged that Modi government hid from the Supreme Court that it allegedly paid Rs 208 crore per plane more for India specific enhancements as compared to a deal negotiated by the erstwhile UPA dispensation.
BJP accuses Rahul of gross contempt of court
Accusing Congress president Rahul Gandhi of gross contempt of court, the BJP on Wednesday said he attributed to the Supreme Court what it had never said in its order on the Rafale deal.
Addressing a poll rally at Goa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicated that the Congress chief was “burdened” with “Bofors sins” of his late father (Rajiv Gandhi) and therefore, was accusing others of corruption. Referring to the I-T raids on close aides of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, Modi said the opposition party wants to be in power to loot.
“After 15 years, they got a chance in Madhya Pradesh. It has been only few days of their government there, but the kind of loot they are engaged in such a short span,” Modi said.
“(It is) directly (linked) to Tughlaq Road the Tughlaq Road election scam. One more scam to their credit. Will we still give them an opportunity to loot the country?” he said.
Addressing a press conference, senior party leader and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “The Congress president probably doesn’t read even half a paragraph of the court’s order, but here, by saying that the court has has said ‘chowkidaar chor hai’, it is verging on contempt of court.”
The president of a party which has been in power for so many years has shown his frustration by attributing words to the apex which were not uttered, she said.
The minister added that the court order was limited to whether it should consider the documents the government said were illegally obtained by petitioners.
Taking a potshot at Gandhi, she said he is out on bail and was accompanied at his nomination filing in Amethi by “the family” -- as described Christen Michel, an alleged middlemen in VVIP chopper deal.
Gandhi has crossed the line of decency in his comments on the court, she said, adding that he is repeatedly misleading people on the Rafale fighter jet deal.
Asked whether the court order is a setback for the government, Sitharaman said, “Not at all.”

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