Day 3 Review Arguments: 30 April 2019

A 3 Judge Bench of the Supreme Court is currently hearing the review petitions filed in the Rafale Fighter jet Deal case. The Bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and Justice K M Joseph is deciding whether to review its 2018 judgment. In its judgment of December 14th, 2018, the Court chose not to order a court monitored investigation of the Rafale Fighter Jet Deal, where the Central government purchased 36 Dassault Rafale fighter jets.

 

The Court on 10th April 2019, held that the classified documents could be placed on the record, dismissing the Union's objection. The case was accordingly listed for further arguments in the review petitions today on April 30th. However, the Attorney General appearing on behalf of the Union of India informed the Court that they had circulated a letter seeking an adjournment as the Union wanted 4 weeks time to file a counter affidavit in reply to the averments in the review petitions, further stating that no formal notice had been issues in the review petitions. Mr. Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the the petitioners also informed the Court that the Union of India was yet to file its response to the perjury application filed by the petitioners.

 

The Court has granted the Union time until Saturday May 4th to file any affidavits/replies and will take up the matter for consideration on May 6th. 

 

Contempt Case Against Mr. Rahul Gandhi:

After concluding the brief hearing in the review petitions in the Rafale Fighter Jet Deal case, the Bench proceeded to hear the arguments in the contempt case filed against Mr. Rahul Gandhi by Meenakshi Lekhi,  Member of Parliament from the BJP. The criminal contempt petition was filed by the BJP MP after Mr. Gandhi  made certain remarks at a public rally referring to the April 10th order of the Supreme Court where he declared that the Court had agreed with his claim that "Chowkidar Chor Hai" (The Prime Minister of India is a thief). The 3 Judge Bench presided by the CJI had sought Mr. Gandhi's explanation for his statements on April 15th for wrongfully attributing political statements to the Court. The Bench had also directed that the case be tagged and listed along with the review petitions in the Rafale Case today. 

 

Subsequently, Mr. Gandhi had filed two separate affidavits explaining that it was not his intention to attribute any political remarks to the Court and it was inconceivable that the Supreme Court would indulge in recording such statements. In today's hearing, Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Ms. Lekhi, expressed his dissatisfaction with the two affidavits filed by Mr. Gandhi where he had only expressed his regret as a mere lip service, recording the same in brackets at the last page of his 22 page long affidavit. Further, his conduct was not befitting the leader of 130 years old political party considering the fact that he had made the erroneous statements on more than one occasion, without having so much as read the April 10th order of the Court in the Rafale Case. Further, Mr. Gandhi had not offered any unconditional apology for his remarks and had in fact justified making them. 

 

When Mr. A M Singhvi, appearing for Mr. Gandhi attempted to make his submissions, the Bench too inquired why the words "regret" had been mentioned in brackets. Further CJI Gogoi asked Mr. Singhvi if there was any statement in the entire affidavit by Mr. Gandhi where he had expressly tendered his apology for making wrongful remarks about the Court. At this point, Mr. Singhvi undertook to file a separate affidavit recording the apology by Monday, May 6th.