GOVT. APPLICATION TO CORRECT RAFALE VERDICT AWAITS HEARING

The Supreme Court is yet to hear an application filed by the government on December 15, 2018, for a correction in the Rafale judgment.

The silence that shrouds the application belies the urgency with which the government returned to the apex court on December 15 — the very next day of the pronouncement of the judgment. The government has so far not made any oral mention before the court for an early hearing of its application.

In the application, the government claimed the apex court judgment erred in English grammar to “misinterpret” information submitted to it in a sealed cover note about the pricing of the deal for 36 Rafale jets.

It had filed the application in the face of a political storm whipped up by the verdict.

The Opposition had gone public about how the Supreme Court was made to believe by the government that the pricing details of the Rafale jets were shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The verdict said, “The pricing details have, however, been shared with the CAG, and the report of the CAG has been examined by the PAC. Only a redacted portion of the report was placed before Parliament and is in the public domain.”

The eight-page ‘correction’ application was hastily filed on a Saturday by a government facing the heat after Congress president Rahul Gandhi held a press conference, claiming that the PAC was in possession of no such CAG report on Rafale prices. PAC chairman Mallikarjun Kharge had also demanded an apology from the government.

The government had said that the court misinterpreted its “is” in the note as “has been.” It was only citing procedure and not an actuality that happened.

The review petitions filed by Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, Prashant Bhushan and Aam Aadmi party MP Sanjay Singh are also pending. They allege that the apex court judgment is riddled with fault lines. They want the apex court to reconsider its “erroneous” judgment, which relies on a “non-existent” CAG report to uphold the Rafale deal.

The petitioners contend that the judgment based on a hypothetical CAG report was not merely a “clerical or arithmetical slip” but a substantial error. They want a “recall” of the verdict.

The petitioners have also questioned the judgment’s dismissal of lack of sovereign guarantee from the French government’s side as a “minor deviation.”