New Delhi: The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, rejected the Centre’s objection on the admissibility of the review petitions filed in the Rafale case, which seeks a probe into the 36-warplane deal that the Narendra Modi government signed with France’s Dassault Aviation. The government had argued that the documents were sensitive to national security and their unauthorized photocopying and leakage constituted penal offences under the Indian Penal Code, including theft.
Earlier, when the review petitions had come up for hearing, the attorney general, KK Venugopal, had argued that a note which the petitioner had submitted to the court was stolen from the defence ministry. He argued that using the contents of the defence ministry note amounted an offence under the Official Secrets Act.
Later, Venugopal took a U-turn and said the documents were not stolen but photocopied.
Now, the court ruled that the review petitions against the Rafale judgment on the plea for a probe on alleged irregularities in the deal will be heard on merits.
This judgment was delivered by a bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph.
Notably, the review petitions were filed against the court’s judgment of December 14, 2018, in which the court had dismissed the plea seeking an investigation into the much-debated Rafale deal.
Reacting to the order, Arun Shourie, who along with Prashant Bhushan and Yashwant Sinha filed the review petition, said, “We are delighted … it is a unanimous verdict dismissing central government’s strange argument on the admissibility of the documents. Centre’s argument meant no wrong can be done in the defence deal.”