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SC to hear Rafale review petitions on merits, dismisses Centre's preliminary objections seeking review

The SC on Wednesday dismissed Centre's preliminary objections seeking review of earlier judgment giving clean chit to the government in Rafale deal with France.

SC to hear Rafale review petitions on merits, dismisses Centre's preliminary objections seeking review

In a major blow for the government, the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed Centre's preliminary objections seeking review of earlier judgment giving clean chit to the government in Rafale deal with France.

A SC bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi passed the order, allowing the admissibility of three documents in Rafale deal as evidence in re-examining the review petitions filed against the judgement delivered by the apex court on December 14, 2018 refusing to order probe in procuring 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

The SC bench also said it will fix a date for starting detailed hearing on the review petitions which raised questions only the pricing of Rafale jets and also the selection of Anil Ambani owned company as offset partner of Dassault, the French firm which manufactures the ultra-modern fighter jet.

CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph were unanimous in their views. "We dismiss the preliminary objection raised by Union of India questioning the maintainability of the review petition," said the SC bench. 

Talking to media after the verdict, Arun Shourie, who filed review plea said, "Our argument was that because the documents relate to Defence you must examine them. You asked for these evidence and we have provided it. So Court, has accepted our pleas & rejected the arguments of the government."

"Modi has been saying that his government believes in the Supreme Court. Now, the Court has given its decision. The Supreme Court will see that whether the government was truthful or not and that is what the CJI has indicated," added Shourie.

Congress has welcomed the SC's verdict calling it a victory for India. "This is a victory for India! We welcome the Supreme Court’s judgement to review the Rafale petition. Satyamev Jayate," tweeted the Congress.

Reacting to SC's verdict, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, "Modi was saying everywhere that he received a clean chit from the Supreme Court in Rafale. Today's Supreme Court decision proved that Modi Ji has stolen from the nation, cheated the country's army, and misled the Supreme Court to hide his crime."

The SC had last heard this case on March 14 and had reserved verdict on the objections raised by the government on admissibility of privileged documents submitted by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

Earlier, an affidavit was filed by the Defence Ministry in the top court in connection with this case, claiming that the documents submitted by the petitioners are sensitive to national security. The government had also argued before the SC that the review plea should be junked as it was based on documents, which were covered under the Official Secrets Act.