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Supreme Court To Hear Fresh PIL Seeking Probe Into Rafale Deal After Two Weeks

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
12 April 2021 7:56 AM GMT
Supreme Court To Hear Fresh PIL Seeking Probe Into Rafale Deal After Two Weeks
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The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to list after two weeks a PIL seeking inquiry into the Rafale deal in the light of recent reports in a French news portal alleging payment of bribe by Dassault Aviation to an Indian middleman.Advocate Manohar Lal Sharma, who filed by petition, mentioned the matter before the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde today.Without mentioning what the case was about,...

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The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to list after two weeks a PIL seeking inquiry into the Rafale deal in the light of recent reports in a French news portal alleging payment of bribe by Dassault Aviation to an Indian middleman.

Advocate Manohar Lal Sharma, who filed by petition, mentioned the matter before the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde today.

Without mentioning what the case was about, Sharma said that he was making a request for the listing of a new petition filed by him before the retirement of CJI Bobde on April 23.

"I am going to miss one of the finest Chief Justices this week. I have one request to make a last appearance before my lord. Please allow a diary number to be listed", Sharma said.

He then mentioned the dairy number of his case, 9444/2021, which relates to his writ petition filed on April 6 against the Rafale deal.

The CJI said that while he was thankful to the praise made by Sharma, the circulation of the matter cannot be allowed on that ground.

"I can say thank you. But this cannot be a ground to allow circulation", the CJI said.

Sharma then said that he was being "harassed badly" and pressed for an early listing of the matter.

CJI then said that normally listings are allowed after two weeks and the same can be done with respect to Sharma's PIL as well. The bench then agreed to list the matter after two weeks.

In his fresh petition , Sharma seeks directions to quash the deal to procure 36 fighter jets from French company Dassault Aviation as  an "outcome of corruption and violation of Articles 13, 21, and 253 of the Constitution of India".

Sharma has further prayed for an investigation to be conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after registration of an FIR against the Respondent Nos. 1 and 2, which includes current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, under PC Act of 1988, read with Sections 409, 420 and 120-B of IPC and Section 3 of the Official Secret Act, 1923. He has sought for the report to be filed before the Apex Court.

The plea is an outcome of an investigation report by France's anti-corruption agency, Agence Française Anticorruption (AGA), wherein it was declared that Dassault had paid a bribe of 1 million Euros to middlemen in India.

"Due to political pressure, prosecution upon AFA's report has been suspended/stayed. It's a serious offence under Secret Act, 1923, injuries financial and defence to the country. It's violated Art. 21 and 13 of the Constitution of India", submits the plea and calls for the investigation report to be brought before the Court.

Delineating the sequence of events, the plea raises the questions as to whether the impugned agreement, being an "outcome of bribe and stolen secret papers of jet fighters from Defence Ministry is liable to be quashed or not", whether the Respondents are to be prosecuted under Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act, read with Sections 420, 120B and 409 of IPC and the PC Act, and whether the impugned agreement can be treated as a treaty between the two countries or a valid international agreement within Article 102 of the UN Charter. Contending that the contract was procured by fraud and corruption, and is therefore void ab-initio, the plea seeks quashing of the same.
Sharma had filed a writ petition in 2018 seeking enquiry into the Rafale deal, which was dismissed in December 2018.
Later, in November 2019, the Supreme Court dismissed review petitions that had been filed against the December 14, 2018 judgement which declined to order probe into the corruption allegations regarding the deal to procure 36 Rafale jets by Indian Government from the French company Dassault Aviation.

A Bench comprising of then CJI Ranjan Gogoi, and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph had observed that the review petition filed by Advocate Prashant Bhushan, former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie lacked merits. The review pleas had been filed on the ground that certain documents had been leaked by the media which showcased that the Government had suppressed material information from the Court.

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