SC allows Defence Ministry to file affidavit in Rafale case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Defence Ministry to file an affidavit in the Rafale case after it sought permission for the same.

The Centre’s advocate mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that the ministry wants to file an affidavit in the review petitions pending before it in the fighter jet case.

The matter will come up for hearing tomorrow.

Last week, the top court had adjourned the hearing in the case till March 14 after the government said that certain documents pertaining to the deal were “stolen” from the Defence Ministry.

The apex court was hearing petitions seeking review of its December 14, 2018 verdict that had dismissed pleas challenging the deal between India and France for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.

In its order, the top court had dismissed petitions seeking a probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the Rafale deal signed two years back alleging irregularities and corruption in the contract.

On January 2, the petitioners in fighter jet deal case — Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, both former Union Ministers, and Prashant Bhushan, a noted lawyer — had moved the apex court for a review of its Rafale judgment. They have sought recall of the verdict and a hearing in the open court.

Their plea has said that the December 14 verdict contained “several errors” and relied upon “patently incorrect claims” made by the government in an unsigned note given in a sealed cover to the court, which is a violation of the principle of natural justice.

The petitioners also alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had signed an agreement for 36 Rafale jets on April 10, 2015, without any such requirement of 36 jets being given by the Air Force Headquarters and without the approval of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), which are the mandated first steps for any defence procurement.

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