New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing over a batch of petitions seeking a review of its December 14, 2018 judgement in the Rafale jets purchase matter to March 14. The apex court was also taking up the government’s application seeking some corrections in the December 14 order.
Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal said certain documents were stolen from the Defence Ministry and an investigation is pending. “We are dealing with defence purchases which involve the security of the state. It is a very sensitive case,” he said.
He said that those who put documents on Rafale deal in public domain were guilty under the Official Secrets Act and contempt of court. While he reportedly said that the review petitions should be dismissed as they relied on stolen documents, the CJI asked him to tell the court what action had been taken on the theft. To this, Justice Joseph reportedly asked, “Can relevant evidence be cut out saying it is illegally obtained? Can’t stolen evidence be looked at if it is relevant?”
The Attorney General also told the court that the source of the document should be disclosed to the court by those who published it. To this, the CJI said, “Primary question is that should the court not look into the evidence or the document, if there is relevance or corruption?”
Responding, AG Venugopal said, “It should not be looked into as it deals with defence and secrets.”
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph is hearing the review petitions in the open court.
There are two review petitions in the Rafale matter. While one is by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan, the other is by AAP MP Sanjay Singh.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan said, “We have also made a supplementary affidavit based on reports by The Hindu’s Narasimman Ram.” To which, CJI Gogoi said, “We don’t want any supplementary stuff. We have read what all you have given us.”
On February 26, the apex court had agreed to hear these petitions in an open court.
The Supreme Court had, in December last year, dismissed all petitions seeking a court-monitored investigation, saying it found “no occasion to really doubt the process” of decision making, pricing and selection of offset partners.