Rafale deal row: Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, Prashant Bhushan move SC for review of verdict on fighter jet agreement

Former BJP ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, and Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court, seeking a review of its judgment on the Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France. on Wednesday. On 14 December, the top court had dismissed all petitions demanding an investigation into the controversial deal, asserting that the pricing and decision-making process involved in coming to the agreement were not in doubt.

"Our country cannot afford to be unprepared when it comes to fighter aircrafts," the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had observed, adding that India's defence preparedness needs to be looked after.

The Centre had inked a deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets at around Rs 58,000 crore (about $8 billion). A slew of petitioners had sought a direction to the Centre to reveal the price at which each of the Rafale jets were bought and the process followed to finalise the agreement. The Congress has been alleging that the aircraft had been bought at a price much higher than that the UPA government had negotiated.

The three leaders were among the petitioners whose pleas the Supreme Court had dismissed on 14 December. Even the day of the Supreme Court verdict, Bhushan had called it "completely wrong". "How can the government say that Dassault gave the deal to Reliance without consulting it when all the guidelines clearly say that such a deal cannot happen without the defence ministry’s approval?" he had asked.

In their review petition, they pointed out a number of "errors" in the Supreme Court's verdict. They pointed out that the court had not dealt with the prayer of the petitioners to have an FIR registered in the Rafale case and an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The review plea also alleges that the verdict relies on "patently false" facts.

 Rafale deal row: Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, Prashant Bhushan move SC for review of verdict on fighter jet agreement

File photo of lawyer Prashant Bhushan, former BJP ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha. PTI

"The government has blatantly misled the Hon'ble Court and the Hon'ble Court has grossly erred in placing reliance on false averments in the note not even supported by an affidavit," the review petition reads. "The entire judgement is based on disputed questions of facts in respect of which an investigation needs to be done. As the judgement is based on evidently false averments in the note not shared with the petitioners, on that ground alone the entire judgement ought to be not just reviewed but recalled."

Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan have been vocal of their opinion on the Rafale deal for months. On 4 October, they had filed a complaint with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), urging the agency to file an FIR against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former defence minister Manohar Parrikar allegedly for committing offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act since the April 2015 decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France-based Dassault Aviation.

Later that month, they took their appeal to have an an FIR registered in the Rafale case to the Supreme Court, alleging "criminal misconduct" by high public functionaries. They had sought a direction to the CBI to investigate the offences mentioned in their complaint in a "time-bound" manner and submit periodic status reports to the apex court.

In September, Sinha and Shourie had accused Modi of "personal culpability" in the Rafale jet purchases, adding that the prime minister had "compromised national security" by unilaterally finalising the deal, shunning every rule of military procurement.

Updated Date: Jan 02, 2019 11:52:33 IST