The Centre on Saturday filed an application in the Supreme Court for carrying out a correction in a paragraph in its judgment on Rafale fighter aircraft deal. In the verdict that gave a clean chit to the Narendra Modi-led government, a reference was made about the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report and Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
While moving the top court, the Centre pointed out that “misinterpretation” of its note has “resulted in a controversy in the public domain”. In the application, the Centre said the two sentences in paragraph 25 of the judgment appeared to have been based on the note submitted by it along with the pricing details in a sealed cover, but indicated the words used by the court lent a different meaning.
Clarifying its position, the Centre said it did not say that the CAG report was examined by PAC or a redacted portion was placed before Parliament.
On Page 21, in Para 25 of the judgment, the bench of the Chief Justice of India states: “The material placed before us shows that the government has not disclosed pricing details, other than the basic price of the aircraft, even to Parliament, on the ground that sensitivity of pricing details could affect national security, apart from breaching the agreement between the two countries. 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 public domain.”
Quoting this, Congress president Rahul Gandhi fired a broadside at the Centre and claimed that this is the “foundation” of the judgment. The court said, a page later, that it had “examined closely” the price details, escalation costs and the note on the “costing, item wise.”
Mallikarjun Kharge, who chairs the PAC, said “CAG does not have their comments and there is no report” and he is not aware of any report, “neither does the CAG know about it”. He said he asked “the Deputy CAG today” since there was a PAC meeting in the afternoon.
Directing a question to the government, Gandhi said “where is this CAG report, show it to us to and show it to the PAC chairman too”. He questioned if “there is another PAC being conducted somewhere else, may be in France”.
Vindicating the government stand and taking the sting out of the Opposition Congress attack over alleged irregularities in the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France, the Supreme Court had Friday dismissed all four 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.
With PTI inputs