Modi government’s affidavit puts Supreme Court and CJI Ranjan Gogoi in quandary over Rafale deal

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Accused of lying in the Supreme Court on the Rafle deal, the Narendra Modi government has filed an affidavit in the top court, highlighting the ‘factural correction’ in the order, passed on Friday. The Centre’s affidavit reportedly says that the Supreme court had misunderstood the government’s submission. It said that the government’s report to the Comptroller and Auditor had only cited the procedure followed in coming to the deal and had not submitted pricing details of the jets.

Supreme Court

The Centre’s affidavit has clarified that the Supreme Court misinterpreted the government’s submissions on the Public Accounts Committee.

The latest twist follows a scathing attack by the Congress, which said that the Modi government had lied in the Supreme Court. Speaking to reporters on Friday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had said, “How is this possible that the foundation of the Supreme Court judgement is that the pricing (of Rafale jets) has been discussed in the PAC. And you have the chairman of the (Public Accounts Committee) PAC (Mallikarjun Kharge) sitting here and he hasn’t seen the CAG report yet. Nobody in the PAC has seen the CAG report. But the Supreme Court says this. I am seriously not able to understand this.”

Kharge, for his part, on Saturday adopted an equally aggressive stance and hinted that the PAC may summon the Attorney General and the CAG chief to grill them for presenting factually wrong submissions in the top court. Kharge had said, “The government lied in the Supreme Court that the CAG report was presented in the house and in the PAC and PAC has probed it. The government said in the Supreme Court that it is in public domain. Where is it? Have you seen it? I am going to take this up with other members of PAC.”

In its judgement, dismissing the petitions on Rafale deal, the Supreme Court had said, “The material placed before us shows that the Government has not disclosed pricing details, other than the basic price of the aircraft, even to the Parliament, on the ground that sensitivity of pricing details could affect national security, apart from breaching the agreement between the two countries. The pricing details have, however, been shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General (hereinafter referred to as “CAG”), and the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee (hereafter referred to as “PAC”). Only a redacted portion of the report was placed before the Parliament, and is in public domain.”

The current affidavit by the central government is bound to place the Chief Justice of India in a quandary. Experts say that it will be interesting to see if CJI Ranjan Gogoi will consider reviewing his Friday’s judgement in light of fresh confessions by the Centre. The top court has come under serious scrutiny for delivering a verdict without verifying the facts presented by the central government in a sealed cover.

Other experts questioned the decision to have the Centre’s submission related to the pricing details of Rafale jets ina sealed cover since they could not be contested by the petitioners.

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