Rafale: SC misinterpreted present for past tense, Centre seeks correction in para 25 [Read Application]
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Rafale: SC misinterpreted present for past tense, Centre seeks correction in para 25 [Read Application]

Shruti Mahajan

The Central government has filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking a correction in the Court’s judgment in the Rafale case.

The judgment delivered on December 14 stated that the details of pricing in the controversial Rafale deal were shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the report of the CAG was placed before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Paragraph 25 of the judgment read:

“The pricing details have, however, been shared with Comptroller and Auditor General [hereinafter referred to as “CAG”], and the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee [hereinafter referred to as “PAC”].   Only a redacted portion of the report was placed before the Parliament and is in public domain.”

This caused a controversy after the Opposition party accused the Government of India of “misleading the Supreme Court” about the CAG report stating that it has neither been placed before the PAC nor the Parliament.

The Centre, through this application, has now sought to clarify that the note handed over in a sealed cover to the Supreme Court by the Union of India was misinterpreted by the Supreme Court resulting in the error by the Court.

The Centre has stated that the while the pricing details have been shared with the CAG, the report of the same has not yet been placed before the PAC. The application highlights that the note in the sealed cover conveyed the normal course of procedure which would take place and it stated the following,

“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”.

While requesting the Supreme Court to make corrections in the judgment to that effect, the Centre has stressed on the fact that the PAC will examine the CAG report, as is the procedure, after the CAG report has been prepared and submitted.

The application states that the words and phrases used in the sealed cover note “has been” and “is” vis-à-vis the sharing of pricing details and submission of CAG report respectively, have been misinterpreted by the Court to mean that the said processes have been completed.

The Centre has clarified its stand stating that the word “is” used to refer to the examination of CAG report by the PAC was only to denote the standard procedure that will take place after the report is prepared. The application reads,

“That it would be noted that what has already been done is described by words in the past tense, i.e. the Government “has already shared” the price details with the CAG. This is in the past tense and is factually correct.  The second part of the sentence, in regard to the PAC, is to the effect that “the report of the CAG is examined by the PAC”.  However, in the judgment, the reference to the word “is” has been replaced with the words “has been”, and the sentence in the judgment (with regard to the PAC) reads the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee”. 

7. The submission by the Union of India, to the effect that the report of the CAG “is” examined by the PAC, was a description of the procedure which is followed in the normal course, in regard to the reports of the CAG. The very fact that the present tense “is” is used would mean that the reference is to the procedure which will be followed as and when the CAG report is ready.

8. Similarly, the statement that only a redacted version of the report “is” placed before Parliament, is referred to in the judgment as “only a redacted portion of the report was placed before the Parliament, and is in public domain”.

The Centre has, consequently, prayed for the said correction to be made in its Judgment delivered yesterday.

“That in this background, it is prayed that this Hon’ble Court may be pleased to direct the following corrections in paragraph 25 of its judgement so that any doubts and or any misunderstanding is not allowed to creep in the judgement of this Hon’ble Court.:-

The words “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” may be substituted in place of “and the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee [hereinafter referred to as “PAC”]. Only a redacted portion of the report was placed before the Parliament and is in public domain.”

Read the application below. 

Rafale-Application-for-correction-in-Judgment.pdf
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