Rejecting the Centre’s plea seeking four weeks to file a reply to petitions seeking review of the Supreme Court’s December 14, 2018 order upholding the Rafale aircraft deal, the bench headed by the Chief Justice of India Tuesday gave the government time until May 4 to file its response.
“A letter has been circulated on behalf of the Union of India and a prayer has been made by the learned Attorney General of India that time be granted to the Union of India to file reply on merits. We fix the matter for further consideration on 06.05.2019. Reply affidavit, if any, by the contesting parties may be brought on record on or before 04.05.2019,” the bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said.
The bench also directed the Centre to reply to other applications filed by the review petitioners — former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan. This includes one seeking perjury charges for allegedly suppressing material evidence and another for production of certain documents.
Attorney General K K Venugopal said the Centre would oppose the applications.
Last December 14, the bench dismissed four petitions seeking a court-monitored investigation into the Rafale purchase, saying it found “no occasion to really doubt the process” of decision making, pricing and selection of offset partners. It said there was no material to show that the government had favoured anyone commercially.
Subsequently, review petitions were filed. The government raised preliminary objections to the admissibility of certain documents which had been published by The Hindu and later carried by the news agency ANI. On April 10, the Supreme Court rejected the government’s objections. The bench said the review petitions should be adjudicated on their own merit in the light of three documents submitted by the petitioners.