New Delhi: In a major development, the Supreme Court on Thursday will deliver landmark verdicts on a bunch of review petitions filed in both Rafale and Sabarimala cases. While the Sabarimala verdict will be delivered at 10:30 AM, the judgment on Rafale case will be delivered soon after that.
The Sabarimala verdict will be announced by a constitution bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
The development in the Sabarimala case comes after the top court had on September 28 in 2018 lifted a ban on the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years into the premises of Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala. In February this year, the order was reserved by the court. The latest order is likely to uphold or set aside the 2018 order.
At least 65 petitions, including 56 review petitions and four fresh writ petitions and five transfer pleas, were filed after the SC verdict sparked violent protests in Kerala.
The temple is all set to open from November 16 for the next three months. The Kerala Police has made elaborate security arrangement and planned to deploy over 10,000 officers in and around Sabarimala for the Mandala Pooja festival.
Earlier this month, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that it is not possible to make laws to circumvent the Supreme Court’s order permitting entry of women of all age into the Sabarimala temple.
On the other hand, the judgment on Rafale case will be delivered by a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph.
The development comes as the top court in December last year had dismissed petitions seeking court-monitored probe into Rafale fighter jet deal, saying that there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the deal.
While hearing the case, the top court had said that it was not its job to go into the issue of pricing of fighter planes.
Later, a number of review petitions were filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and others against the top court’s judgement, seeking probe into Rs 58,000 deal and registration of first information report (FIR).
Their petition states that the December 14 verdict contained several errors and it relied upon patently incorrect claims made by the government in an unsigned note given in a sealed cover to the court, which is a violation of the principle of natural justice.
The petitioners alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had signed an agreement for 36 Rafale jets on April 10, 2015, without any such requirement being given by the Air Force Headquarters and without the approval of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), which are the mandated first steps for any defence procurement.