Rafale deal: Petitioners say Centre ‘deliberately misled’ the Supreme Court
The petitioners labelled the government’s claim that an investigation into the deal would compromise national security as ‘self-serving’.
The petitioners in the Rafale defence deal case on Wednesday alleged that the government had deliberately misled the Supreme Court by telling it “untruths”, which amounted to “wholesale fraud”, The Hindu reported.
Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan submitted in the court that officers who have misled it should be held accountable for perjury, PTI reported. “It [the Centre] suppressed the truth and thereby insinuated utter falsehoods: facts and documents of the greatest significance, which have direct and overarching bearing on the matter that the court was considering, and which were available with the Government were suppressed from the court,” the 41-page submission read.
The petitioners have asked for a review of the court’s judgement rejecting the need for a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the deal. On May 10, the Supreme Court reserved its verdict on the petitions.
“The government wilfully and deliberately misled the court on matter after matter,” the petitioners said on Wednesday. “It was not just one fact or document that might have been left out accidentally. But a series, and all of them conformed to a pattern. The court placed its trust in the government as a result, in reaching the conclusions that it did, the court relied almost wholly on the notes that the government had submitted; and the government abused that trust.”
The petitioners labelled the government’s claim that an investigation into the deal would compromise national security as “self-serving”. They pointed out that inquiries had been carried out in the Bofors case, the French Scorpene case, and the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.
The case so far
In March, the government had urged the court to dismiss the review petitions. However, on April 10, the Supreme Court had said it would go ahead with the hearings even if the petitions were based on stolen and classified documents, according to the government. Earlier this month, the Centre told the Supreme Court in another affidavit that the decision of the Prime Minister’s Office to monitor the Rafale jet deal cannot be construed as interference as implied by a media report.
On Thursday, the Centre filed a reply affidavit in the top court, saying the demand for perjury proceedings against some public servants in the case was misconceived, PTI reported. The review petitions have sought perjury action against unknown government officials for allegedly misleading the court during hearings last year.
In its affidavit, the Centre said the allegations that government officials made false statements and suppressed facts in court were “completely false” and baseless. The government reiterated its claim that the petitioners were relying on “selective leaks” of Defence Ministry files in the media, and that they present an “incomplete picture”.
The Centre also said that media reports cannot form the basis for seeking perjury proceedings as it is well settled that courts do not take decisions on the basis of media reports.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of treason and claimed he had acted as a middleman for industrialist Anil Ambani in the deal. Gandhi has used the phrase “chowkidar chor hai [the watchman is a thief]” to allege Modi is corrupt.