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Centre opposes reopening of Rafale matter in Supreme Court

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New Delhi, May 4, 2019-

The Centre on Saturday filed a fresh affidavit in Rafale deal in the Supreme Court seeking the application of review of the deal “ought to be dismissed with exemplary costs” as it signifies “complete misuse and abuse of the legal process”.

The Centre expressed its commitment to provide the top court any document, which is required to read in detail.

The Centre informed the apex court that it had submitted access to all files, notings, letters etc., related to procurement “including the full pricing details” to the Comptroller an Auditor General (CAG).

The affidavit cited the CAG report on the deal, “…the price of 36 Rafale is 2.86 per cent lower than the audit aligned price, apart from additional benefits, which would accrue because of change from firm and fixed pricing to non-firm price.”

The Centre also told the court that monitoring of the progress by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) of this — government to government process — “cannot be construed as interference or parallel negotiations”.

The Centre expressed its commitment on the transparency regarding the deal.

“The government remains committed to provide to this court any document or file, which it desires to peruse,” said the Centre in the affidavit.

It also slammed the review petitioners’ attempt “to call for production of the documents and in the process try and attempt to get a roving or fishing enquiry ordered” as gross abuse of the legal process.

The Centre also informed the court that “the Government of India has no role in selection of Indian Offset partner, which is a commercial decision of OEM.”

The Centre said that the top court judgment passed on December 14, 2018, was well-reasoned, wherein the court gave a clean chit to the government on the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France, and it could not be re-examined merely on the ground of stolen documents, revealing incomplete file notings.

This affidavit was filed, after court issued a formal notice to the Centre on the review petitions filed on its December 2018 judgement.

The Centre said the information submitted before the top court in terms of various orders passed from time to time while hearing the main writ petition “was based on contents of official documents and produced before this court with the approval of competent authority”.

The Centre said the submissions of the applicants — Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie, and Yashwant Sinha — were bereft of any “particulars much less particulars; they are scandalous and false and baseless to say the least”.

Earlier, the top court had said that it was not its job to go into the issue of pricing. The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that there is no need to conduct an investigation into the pricing of the fighter jets.

The Centre contended in the affidavit that “statements by the applicants (review petitioners) that the judgement being a fruit of poisonous tree must be recalled, brings this court to disrepute and lowers its image and majesty of law”.

The Centre buttressed it is decision on the deal, and stated the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) — the highest decision making body in defence matters — and also Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) — the highest decision making body in Ministry of Defence –, have made the decision “keeping in view all the facts of the case and the critical operational necessity of Indian Air Force”.  (Agency)

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