The Supreme Court on Friday reserved its verdict on petitions challenging its December 14 judgment on the Rafale fighter jet deal. The court directed the parties to file written submissions within two weeks. In a separate hearing, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also reserved the verdict on the criminal contempt plea filed against him by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi.
In its order last December, the apex court had dismissed the plea filed by Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan seeking probe into alleged irregularities in the multi-crore Rafale fighter jet purchase deal with France.
At the outset, AG K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the top court that the pricing of the Rafale deal is “covered under Article 10 of the inter-government agreement”.
“Rafale wasn’t being procured for ornamentation. Pricing of Rafale deal is covered under Article 10 of inter-government agreement and was not supposed to be discussed in public domain. It is for national security..for protection of each one of us. It is for everyone to see what’s happening around us. No other court in the world will examine a defence deal on these kinds of arguments,” Venugopal told the apex court.
The AG also cited CAG report to argue India got Rafale at a cheaper price. “Will this Court sit on the computation of the prices? And what happens thereafter? Will this Court then fix the prices of aircrafts, avionics?” he said.
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, during two-hour-long hearing, referred to various aspects including alleged suppression of material facts from the court and said that an FIR should have been lodged and a criminal investigation launched into the case.
He also referred to the documents relating to alleged parallel negotiations being undertaken by the PMO and said that three members of the Indian Negotiation Team had objected to the parallel negotiations.
He said that a prima facie cognisable offence has been committed and it warranted registration of the FIR.
During the hearing on criminal contempt proceedings against Rahul, the Congress chief told the top court that he has already tendered unconditional apology for "wrongly attributing" to it the "chowkidar chor hai" remarks and the criminal contempt proceedings against him should be closed.
Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for Gandhi, told the bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, that the Congress President has already tendered unconditional apology and has expressed regret over the wrongful attribution to the apex court.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Lekhi, told the bench that the apology tendered by Gandhi should be rejected and action must be taken against him as per the law.
Rohatgi also argued that the court should ask Gandhi to make an apology to the public for his remarks.