The Supreme Court will on Thursday deliver its verdicts on two review petitions – one challenging its December 2018 judgement rejecting the need for an inquiry into the Rafale fighter jet deal, and another against the September 2018 verdict to allow women of all ages into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple.
The review pleas in the Rafale case had been filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan and former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, among others. The court had reserved its verdict on May 10.
In the Sabarimala case, the court heard a batch of 56 review petitions, four writ petitions, two transfer petitions filed by the Kerala government, two Special Leave Petitions, and a plea filed by the Travancore Devaswom Board seeking time to implement the judgement. The court had reserved its verdict on February 6.
The two judgements will be delivered after 10.30 am on Thursday.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who was on both the benches that heard the two cases, retires on November 17.
Rafale review petitions
The Rafale fighter jet deal had become a major political issue during the Lok Sabha election campaign earlier this year. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of treason and corruption, and alleged that he had acted as a middleman for industrialist Anil Ambani in the deal. Gandhi famously used the phrase “chowkidar chor hai [the watchman is a thief]” during his campaign to accuse Modi of corruption.
In December, the top court had rejected the need for an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the Rafale deal. The petitioners sought a review, citing ministry documents revealed by media reports – mainly those published in The Hindu – two months after the verdict. The government claimed that these were privileged and secret official files, and publishing them was illegal and a threat to security. However, the court rejected this contention and heard the review pleas.
The review petitions were heard by a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph.
Sabarimala review petitions
The entry of women of menstruating age group into the Ayyappa shrine in Sabarimala has been a contentious issue. There were widespread protests and violence in the state when some women tried to enter the shrine after the Supreme Court last year decided that women of all ages would be allowed to enter the temple. The verdict had overturned the centuries-old tradition that prohibited women in the age group of 10-50 from offering prayers there.
The review petitions were heard by Gogoi and Justices Fali S Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.