New Delhi, November 14
The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the review petitions against its verdict in the Rafale deal on grounds that they lacked merit, reiterating its clean chit to the Modi government in the fighter jet agreement with French firm Dassault Aviation.
The apex court also rejected the contention that there was need to register an FIR in connection with the Rs 58,000 crore deal.
The pleas had sought re-examination of the apex court’s December 14, 2018 verdict that there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.
“We find the review petitions are without any merit,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph said.
The rejection of review petitions is tantamount to the apex court giving a second clean chit to the Modi government.
Reading out the judgment, Justice Kaul said the judges had reached the conclusion that it is not appropriate to order a roving inquiry into the allegations.
Maintaining that the review petitions had sought the registration of an FIR in connection with Rafale fighter jets deal, the bench said, “We do not consider it to be a fair submission.”
“We do not find it appropriate to consider passing order for registration of FIR,” the bench said.
Justice Joseph, who wrote a separate judgment, said he agreed with the main verdict written by Justice Kaul subject to certain aspects on which he had given his own reasons.
In December last year, the apex court had dismissed the petitions seeking an investigation into the alleged irregularities in the deal.
On May 10, the apex court reserved its decision on the pleas, including one filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan, seeking a re-examination of its findings.
The review petitions were filed by the trio, lawyer Vineet Dhandha and Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker Sanjay Singh.
While reserving the judgment on the review petitions, the apex court asked the Centre searching questions on its deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets on issues like “waiver of sovereign guarantee” and the absence of technology transfer clause in the inter-governmental agreement (IGA).
The bench referred to an earlier judgment, which said an FIR is a must when information revealed commission of cognizable offence.
Attorney General KK Venugopal had told the bench that “there has to be a prima facie case, otherwise they (agencies) cannot proceed. The information must disclose commission of cognizable offence”.
Justice Joseph had referred to the earlier deal and asked the Centre why the IGA on Rafale with the French administration did not have the clause of transfer of technology.
“The court cannot decide such technical aspects,” Venugopal said in response. PTI
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