Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lawmaker Sanjay Singh Monday moved the Supreme Court, seeking review of the verdict by which several pleas challenging the deal for procurement of Rafale fighter jets were dismissed. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, on December 14, had dismissed as many as four petitions challenging the deal and had said that there was no occasion to "really doubt the decision-making process", warranting setting aside of the contract.
Besides seeking review of the verdict, the Rajya Sabha lawmaker has also sought an open-court hearing on his review plea and initiation of contempt proceedings against persons who were responsible for allegedly "misleading" the court on sharing of price of the fighter jet. "The judgement relies upon patently incorrect claims made by the Respondent No.1 & 2 (Centre and Defence Ministry) in an unsigned note given in a sealed cover to the court without being shown to the petitioner which is a violation of principles of natural justice.
"The court was purposefully misled and made to believe, in order to establish the bonafide of the Respondent (Defence Ministry) before this Court, about the sharing of pricing details with the CAG and also the purported report of the CAG to the PAC, which are factually incorrect and all the respective officials have vehemently denied about such sharing of price," the plea, filed through lawyers Dheeraj Kumar Singh and Mrinal Kumar, said.
The review plea claimed that there was "admission of guilt" on behalf of the Centre on price sharing and said that petitioner Singh was not given an opportunity to be heard on the claims made in the Centre's "unsigned" confidential notes which resulted in "gross miscarriage of justice". The court has not even considered the main prayer in the petition about the constitution of the apex court-monitored SIT probe and disposed it off saying that perception of individuals cannot be the basis of a "fishing and roving inquiry", it said.
"It is imperative to submit that the criminality of the person responsible for inking the new deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets is a well documented fact..." the petition said. It added that the fact could not be overlooked as the inaction against the "misdeeds" of the person or persons responsible for the cancellation of the earlier deal and the exclusion of HAL and inclusion of a "novice company" as the offset partner would give a wrong message and a perceived immunity to the "wrongdoer" and it would be detrimental to national interest.
Besides Singh, former union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist-advocate Prashant Bhushan had moved the apex court with a plea for a direction to the CBI to register an FIR for alleged irregularities in the deal. Advocates M L Sharma and Vineet Dhanda had also filed separate pleas against the Rafale deal. Singh had sought setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the supervision of the apex court to probe the Rafale deal.
He had said the SIT should probe the reasons for cancelling the earlier deal entered into by the UPA government for the purchase of 126 fighter jets. All pleas were dismissed by the apex court. Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan have already filed the review plea. Rafale deal is a defence agreement signed between the governments of India and France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts in a fly-away condition as a part of the upgrading process of Indian Air Force equipment. The Rafale fighter jet is a twin-engine Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation.
(With inputs from agencies.)