Day 4 Review ArgumentsRafale Fighter Jet Deal
May 6th 2019
The matter was briefly heard and listed for Friday, May 10th. A 3 Judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Ranjan Gogoi CJI, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and KM Joseph JJ is hearing review petitions challenging its December 14th, 2018 judgment. In its judgment, it had declined to initiate a court monitored probe into the Rafale Deal.
On April 10th, the Bench rejected the preliminary objections raised by the Union with respect to the admissibility of certain government documents which, it was argued, could not be made a matter of public record. The Court had accordingly scheduled hearings to continue on April 30th. However, on the said date the Attorney General sought time to file the reply affidavit on behalf of the Union of India and was granted time until Saturday May 4th to do so and the matter was scheduled for hearing today on May 6th.
In today’s hearing, Mr. Prashant Bhushan began by informing the Court that there were three applications that the Court was concerned with in the present case, the first being the review petition, the second the application for perjury, and the third was a new application filed by the petitioners for production of documents. He further told the Bench that he would be presenting his arguments in the review petition as well as the application for production of documents, the grounds for which would emerge from the review petition. He requested the Bench to allow Mr. Arun Shourie to present the arguments in the application for perjury.
At this point, Ranjan Gogoi CJI inquired about the tagged matter pertaining to the contempt case against Congress President Mr. Rahul Gandhi. The contempt petition was filed against Mr. Gandhi, after he claimed that the Court in delivering its April 10th order and had stated that chowkidar chor hai (‘the watchman is the thief’, an anti-BJP political slogan). Mr. Vikas Singh, the counsel appearing for Mr. Vineet Dhanda who has also filed a review petition in the case informed the Bench that the contempt case against Mr. Gandhi had been listed for hearing on Friday, May 10th. What followed was a discussion regarding some confusion with respect to the dates for listing, with CJI Gogoi questioning how could two cases that were listed for hearing analogously be listed on separate dates. Mr. Singh drew his attention to the judicial order in the contempt case which recorded May 10th as the next date of hearing.
Mr. Bhushan intervened to submit that he too was under the impression that the two cases were to be listed together, however given that the review petition had been listed today, he asked the Court to proceed to hear his arguments in the case. CJI Gogoi however directed that the case be listed for hearing on Friday, May 10th along with the contempt case against Mr. Gandhi.
Mr. Bhushan also sought time to file his rejoinder to the reply filed by the Union of India by Wednesday the 8th, pointing to the fact that the Union of India was yet to file its reply to the application for perjury. To this Mr. KK Venugopal, Attorney General responded saying that no formal notice had been issued in the application at which point CJI Gogoi stated that the Union had filed its response to the application for production of documents despite no formal notice being issued in the same. CJI Gogoi also granted Mr. Bhushan the liberty to file his rejoinder noting that it was the prerogative of the Union of India to file their response to the application for perjury.
Gogoi CJI asked the parties to be ready to conclude their arguments on the next date of hearing.
The two cases will be taken up for hearing on Friday, May 10th.