Centre opposes reopening of Rafale matter in Supreme Court

NEW DELHI, MAY 4 (IANS) | Publish Date: 5/4/2019 11:34:10 AM IST

The government on Saturday filed a fresh affidavit in the Supreme Court in the Rafale case, opposing reopening of the whole matter by contending that the petitioners were attempting to get “a fishing and roving inquiry ordered”.

The government said the top court has “specifically declined” to have a “fishing and roving inquiry” into the matter “based on perceptions of individuals”. 

The affidavit, filed by Joint Secretary and Acquisition Manager in the Defence Ministry on behalf of the government said the application filed by petitioners, former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha and others, for reopening the case is “misconceived and not maintainable”. 

“..The applicants are not entitled to any relief” and their application is “liable to be dismissed,” the affidavit said. 

“It is submitted that in the garb of seeking review of the judgement (of last December), and placing reliance on some media reports and some incomplete internal file notings procured unauthorisedly and illegally, the petitioners cannot seek to reopen the whole matter by asking for production of documents in review petition since the scope of review petition itself is extremely limited,” the affidavit said.

The affidavit was in response to a petition, filed on the basis of the aforementioned documents and subsequent press reports, calling for a review of the December 2018 clean chit on the Rafale deal, which, it was argued, was a re-worked version of a UPA-era deal to buy 36 Rafale aircraft from at a higher price tag.

In April the court, in a setback to the centre, rejected the plea that the classified documents accessed by the media could not be used as evidence. It allowed the admissibility of three documents as evidence in re-examining review petitions filed against the clean chit verdict.

“We dismiss the preliminary objection raised by Union of India questioning the maintainability of the review petition,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph said.

Part of that petition also included reference to a document cited by The Hindu that said “parallel discussions by the PMO have weakened the negotiating positions by the MoD and the negotiating team”.

It also argued that the media articles in question were not the final decision of the government, saying, “The three articles express the views of retired/ individual functionaries and NOT final decision of the Govt. The three articles do not convey the complete official stand of the Govt”.

Maintaining that the court had limited role in matters relating to defence, the government said it was nevertheless ready to submit any documents needed. The next hearing on this matter has been scheduled for May 6, which is also the date for the fifth round of polling for the ongoing 2019 Lok Sabha election.

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