Rafale Review Petitions: Live Updates from the Supreme Court

Rafale Review Petitions: Live Updates from the Supreme Court

Bar & Bench

The Supreme Court is currently hearing the review petitions filed by various parties in the Rafale case.

The petitions are being heard by a Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph.

Along with the review petition, the Supreme Court will also hear the Central government’s correction application and the application by petitioners seeking perjury proceedings against officials of the Central government.

The review has been filed against the Court’s December 2018 judgment, by which it dismissed petitions calling for an investigation into the Rafale deal.

The review petitions preferred by Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, Prashant Bhushan and Sanjay Singh claim that the judgment is based on “errors apparent on the face of the record” and ought to be recalled.

The Court had earlier said that it would hear the review in chambers. However, it later agreed to hold an open court hearing.

Live updates of today’s hearing follow:

  • Bench assembles; hearing commences in the review petition
  • ML Sharma says his review petition should be item no.1 and not 2. “Alright, done“, CJI Ranjan Gogoi.
  • Prashant Bhushan commences arguments.
  • Your Lordships in your judgment have not dealt with prayers in our petition which is for court-monitored investigation, Prashant Bhushan.
  • Our prayer was not for cancellation of the deal as in Vineet Dhanda’s and ML Sharma’s. The parameters for dealing with the two prayers are different, submits Prashant Bhushan.
  • The only question before this court was whether the complaint warranted a probe and what the status of our complaint was, submits Prashant Bhushan.
  • There are a large number of serious errors of fact which court relied upon for passing the judgment it did. Those facts were presumably supplied to the court by Centre in sealed cover notes, submits Prashant Bhushan.
  • Critical material facts were suppressed from the court, Bhushan.
  • Prashant Bhushan relies on an eight-page note. Attorney General KK Venugopal objects; says those note files were stolen from Defence Ministry and probe into that is underway.
  • This would be an offence under the Official Secrets Act. Action might be taken against two newspapers which published. Action is also warranted against Senior counsel. These are matters which involve the very security of the State, AG KK Venugopal
  • The strategy is to put out a news item the day before the hearing so as to influence the hearing. Today also Hindu has published something. This by itself is contempt of court, submits Attorney General KK Venugopal.
  • I am suggesting that the newspaper is guilty under IPC for theft and under the Official Secrets Act for accessing privileged documents. Review petition and perjury petition are liable to be dismissed in limine on this ground alone, AG KK Venugopal submits
  • Supreme Court rises for lunch, hearing to resume at 2 pm.
  • Bench assembles, hearing resumes.
  • CJI Ranjan Gogoi takes objection to certain statements made by Sanjay Singh on Rafale case and CBI case “We are taking it very seriously and will take serious action. We won’t hear you. Inform your client“, CJI Ranjan Gogoi to Sanjay Singh’s lawyer, Sanjay Hegde.
  • Statement by AG that action will be taken against petitioners who are trying to bring the correct facts on record is an attempt to intimidate the petitioners and amounts to criminal contempt of court, submits Prashant Bhushan.
  • These documents were never intended to be in public domain, Attorney General KK Venugopal.
  • If the CBI probe is directed now, the damage done to the country will immense. Do these people know how many aircraft we have? Whether they can compete with F 16s?, AG KK Venugopal.
  • If CBI inquires and then finally gives approval whole process will have to start again, AG Venugopal.
  • Justice KM Joseph quizzes AG Venugopal. “Can relevant evidence be cut out saying it is illegally obtained? Can’t stolen evidence be looked into if it is relevant?“, asks Justice KM Joseph.
  • Intense exchange between AG KK Venugopal and Justice KM Joseph on whether illegally obtained evidence can be relied upon or not.
  • “They have come with a document which is stolen. Your Lordships might have your view on it (admissibility of such a document) but I have a different view”, AG KK Venugopal.
  • Attorney General KK Venugopal also asks whether the Supreme Court will give directions to go to War or negotiate for peace?
  • The petitioner has not crossed the threshold required by disclosing the source of the document. Where did he get it from in the Defence Ministry? asks Attorney General KK Venugopal.
  • The entire petition is being based on a criminal act, this petition is liable to be dismissed. Defence is one of the most sensitive matters for the State involving the safety of each of us, AG KK Venugopal.
  • CJI Ranjan Gogoi quizzing AG KK Venugopal “An accused is having difficulty in proving his innocence. He steals a document and shows it to judge. The document clearly shows he is innocent. Should the judge not admit the document”, asks Gogoi J
  • He has to disclose the source of the document, AG KK Venugopal.
  • The submission is, once the document is a subject matter of criminality, in my opinion, the court should not look into it, AG KK Venugopal.
  • If your submission is that petitioners have not come bona fide, then that’s different. But can you say that the document is completely not touchable, CJI Ranjan Gogoi to AG KK Venugopal.
  • The whole transaction is being discussed day after day. This is more of a political matter, AG KK Venugopal.
  • In this limited area concerning defence of frontiers, would it not be appropriate for Your Lordships to exercise restraint? This is a matter by which opposition is trying to destabilise the government, AG KK Venugopal.
  • Prashant Bhushan now commences arguments.
  • Bhushan responding to submissions by AG KK Venugopal on the admissibility of documents in question.
  • If an allegation of corruption is made, then it is the duty of the investigation agency to probe as per a Constitution Bench judgment of this court. It is a different thing if they don’t find, they can file a closure report, Prashant Bhushan.
  • CJI Ranjan Gogoi suggests to Bhushan that the Court will accept Attorney General KK Venugopal’s arguments not to accept the controversial documents. It will hear the case minus those documents, Gogoi J.
  • Even if the documents are not accepted it won’t make a significant difference to the case, submits Prashant Bhushan. The bulk of documents I have filed, sources have been disclosed, says Bhushan.
  • The government itself in Parliament disclosed the price of Rafale aircraft. Pricing amounts have been redacted from CAG Report for the first time in the history of CAG, Prashant Bhushan submits.
  • They submitted false information in court and later filed application saying your Lordships misread it, submits Prashant Bhushan.
  • The facts placed by Government before Court were pursuant to your order. If we have documents to show that those facts were wrong, don’t we have the right to place those documents before the court, asks Arun Shourie.
  • Bench rises for the day, hearing will resume on March 14.

Read the order below.

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