CAG said Rafale deal saved on costs, Centre tells SC
One of the petitioners in the case, Prashant Bhushan, had argued that December 14 judgment did not take note of the plea seeking an investigation in the matter and registration of the FIR.
The submissions were filed in the apex court on Friday.
Earlier, advocate Prashant Bhushan, one of the petitioners in the Rafale case, had argued that December 14 judgment did not take note of the plea seeking an investigation in the matter and registration of the first information report (FIR).
He claimed that there was no precedent of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) redacting pricing details from its report regarding the deal.
"Not even in one case in the past, pricing details have been redacted. It was unprecedented that pricing details were redacted," he contended before the bench, also comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph.
Bhushan also questioned as to why the standard anti-corruption clauses relating to the deal were allegedly deleted by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
"Eight standard clauses including all standard anti-corruption clauses were dropped from the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) post-August 24, 2016 in Rafale deal and the same was not informed to the court," he said.
"A lot of crucial information was suppressed from this court and the impugned judgment was obtained on the basis of fraud played upon the court by the government," the lawyer said.
In his arguments, Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal, representing the government, said, "There is no question of any corruption. The court has already decided that in the Rafale case verdict (on December 14 last year)."
On the pricing of the fighter jets, he said: "The issue was covered under Article 10 of the Inter-Governmental Agreement and was not supposed to be discussed in public domain."
Venugopal contended that the court did not want the pricing to be disclosed but had only asked for the procedure adopted in the deal.
"We produced the procedure. And even if there are errors in it, that will not be a ground for review. The entire judgment cannot be set aside," he said.
"The lives of pilots were at risk. The 126 MMRCA process was not working. So a conscious decision was taken by the government to go ahead with the procurement of the 36 Rafale aircraft," the Attorney-General submitted.
The bench then questioned Venugopal on the initial dissent expressed by three experts. "These officers later agreed to all the clauses and the decision was taken unanimously. It was then placed before the CCS," he replied.
The review petitions were filed by Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, Prashant Bhushan, and others. In the December 14 judgment, the Supreme Court had said that there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the deal.