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Rafale jet deal case: Supreme Court adjourns further hearing to March 14

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Surabhi Pandey | Updated on: 06 Mar 2019, 03:58:35 PM
Rafale case LIVE: Supreme Court begins hearing petitions seeking review of its December 14 verdict

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court has begun hearing the petitions seeking review of its December 14 judgement on Rafale fighter jet deal. The top court has already agreed to hear these petitions in open court. The petitions have sought review of its December verdict that dismissed pleas challenging the deal between India and France for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph had allowed the prayer of former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie as also activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan that the review pleas be heard in open court.

Here are LIVE updates from top court:

Supreme Court adjourns further hearing to March 14

"Every person in this country can look into these documents; but the Court cannot, says Arun Shourie 

The government itself in Parliament disclosed the price of Rafale aircraft: Prashant Bhushan

Supreme Court will hear Rafale case minus missing documents, suggests CJI Gogoi

Bhushan counters Venugopal’s arguments. He cites how whistleblowers gave him the entry register of former CBI director Ranjit Sinha and another documents in 2G which the Supreme Court relied upon in ordering probe.

Prashant Bhushan now commences arguments. Bhushan says that the documents were published by both Hindu and ANI.

Opposition is trying to destabilise the government using the Rafale argument, says Venugopal.

“CAG report in Rafale deal has already been submitted in Parliament. Let Parliament examine it,” says Venugopal.

“Defence procurements can't be judicially examined," says Venugopal.

"This purchase is essential for the survival of this nation against enemies", Venugopal comes back to national security argument.

Justice SK Kaul says that if the documents were stolen, the Govt should put its own house in order. "It is one thing to say that we should look at these documents with suspicion. But to say we can't even look at those documents may not be a correct submission in law."

Justice K M Joseph asks whether this principle propounded by Venugopal should be applied in Bofors case? Can that case also be shut out, he says.

He has to disclose the source of the document, says Venugopal.

Leaked documents can be looked into by the court only when the source is declared. It is a criminal conduct on the part of petitioners to produce documents which are covered under the Official Secrets Act, says Venugopal.

Arguing over the Justice Joseph’s contention, Venugopal asked, “How did the petitioners get privielged documents of defence ministry?"

"Certain issues are outside the purview of judicial review. Do we have to come to the court to justify when we declare war, when we declare peace? Do we have to come and seek permission of the court every time," Attorney General replies to Justice Joseph.

“Even stolen documents can be relied upon if they are relevant,” says Justice Joseph.

Justice KM Joseph doesn't agree with Venugopal’s submissions. "Issue of national security doesn't arise when question in review is that plea of investigation hasn't been considered. Are you going to take shelter under national security when the allegations is of grave crime, corruption,” asks Justice Joseph.

“They (Rafale) are needed to protect the country against F16s. Pilots have already been sent to Paris for training to operate the jets,” Venugopal tells top court.

“If CBI probe is directed now, the damage done to the country will immense. Do these people know how many aircraft we have? Whether they can compete with F 16s,” asks Venugopal.

"These documents are published to the whole world. Look at the damage that has been done," says Venugopal.

"Documents were published by the newspaper by omitting the word 'Secret' at the top. This is in violation of the Official Secrets Act," Venugopal said.

These documents were never intended to be in public domain, says Attorney General KK Venugopal.

Attorney General reads out the exemption clauses under RTI that pertain to information pertaining to security of the state, relationship with foreign country etc. Venugopal says documents aren't subject to disclosure under RTI act.

“Statement by Attorney General that action will be taken against petitioners who are trying to bring the correct facts on record is attempt to intimidate the petitioners and amounts to criminal contempt of court,” Bhushan said.

“We wouldn't give hearing to Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh,” says CJI Gogoi. He added that Singh made some derogatory statements against the institutions in Rafale case.

Supreme Court Bench assembles, hearing resumes in Rafale case.

“Modi govt itself admits Rafale documents “stolen” from the Ministry of Defence. How can country's security be entrusted with this govt? But thanks to them for confirming the documents. An FIR against Modi is now inescapable,” tweets Sitaram Yechury.

Court rises for lunch

The Supreme Court asks Attorney General what steps/actions have been taken by the govt after the documents were reportedly stolen. CJI Gogoi asks Venugopal to seek instructions and apprise the steps taken at 2 PM today.

We are considering action against two newspapers which published government documents and a senior counsel. This is a matter concerning national security, submits AG KK Venugopal.

Prashant Bhushan submits that court failed to consider the prayers made by him in the petition. We didn't ask for cancellation of the Rafale deal, we asked for probe into the allegations of corruption into the decision making process of the Rafale deal.

The strategy is to put out a news item the day before the hearing so as to influence the hearing. Today also Hindu has published something. This by itself is contempt of court, submits Attorney General KK Venugopal.

Attorney General (AG), KK Venugopal told Supreme Court that certain documents were stolen from the Defence Ministry either by public servants and an investigation is pending. We are dealing with defence purchases which involve security of the state. It is a very sensitive case.

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First Published : 06 Mar 2019, 12:52:31 PM