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Submission in the Rafale case by the Indian Government with the Supreme Court – Was it a typographical error or an intentional misleading?

Finally, the verdict of the Honourable Supreme Court of India is out on the much-talked-about issue of Rafale fighter jets. The court, in its judgement dated 14th December 2018, dismissed all the petitions filed in the said matter, citing that the power of the court has inherent limitations in reviewing sensitive matters like defence of the country and further the court is satisfied that there is no occasion to really doubt the process being followed in the procurement of the 36 fighter jets.

As soon as the judgement was out, the politicians of the ruling government have come out in open and portrayed this judgement as a proof of their honesty, stating that “Falsehood has a very short life.” Yet again, they have emphasized that no corruption or favour has been done in the Rafale fighter jets deal. As per the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), this judgement has stamped once again that “Desh ka Chowkidar Aka Modi Chor Nahi hai

There is every possibility that the Modi led Central Government shall soon be using this judgement as a certificate in their favour claiming that there was no pressure from their side in the Rafale deal to choose Reliance Defence as the offset partner, either on the France Government or on the Dassault Aviation, the French firm being the manufacturer of the fighter jet.

Now, there is a twist in the said judgement of the Supreme Court of India. The learned and respected bench of the Supreme Court has relied on one of the submissions made (in a sealed cover) by the Modi led Central Government of India. This submission by the Indian Government with the court, says that the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India have been shared with and examined by the current Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Parliament.

However, soon after the judgement was out, the present Chairman of the PAC, Mr. Mallikarjun Kharge, has straightaway ‘openly’ denied the Government’s claim, clearly mentioning that the PAC hasn’t received any such CAG report, until date. Mr. Kharge has further publically stated that he has spoken to the office of the CAG, whereby he was informed that their report on the Rafale deal is not yet finalized.

Quite surprisingly, none of the politicians of the ruling government, especially Mr. Arun Jaitley, who is, fortunately, a renowned lawyer of the Supreme Court as well, could figure out this apparent contradiction, before it was being pointed out by the head of the PAC himself. I guess the sharp eyes of the politicians of the ruling government were too engrossed in interpreting the judgement in their favour. So, they obviously missed out seeing such a “relevant” contradiction.

Hence, after this point got highlighted in the public domain, the government “has” to file an application with the Supreme Court on dated 15th December 2018, seeking a correction to be made in the court’s earlier order, on the ground that there was a typographical error in the submission made by the government, which resulted in “misinterpretation” by the honourable court, as far as the examination of the CAG report by the PAC is concerned.

Now, on the one side the government moves Supreme Court seeking correction in the typographical error, while on the other side, the government claims that their submission was being misinterpreted by the learned bench of the Supreme Court. By taking rescue of the word “Misinterpretation” are they questioning the understanding of the learned judges of the Supreme Court or what? I fail to understand that how interpreting whatever is mentioned could be termed as Misinterpretation? On the one hand, you say that it was an error at your end, while on the other hand, you blame others to misinterpret it. Wow, what a way to run away from your responsibility.

The Honourable Supreme Court in its judgement has clearly mentioned that there is no occasion to really doubt the “process being followed” in the procurement of the 36 fighter jets. Hence, it is very much clear that what was expected from the government to submit, along with the other details, was the process that has been ‘followed’ in the Rafale case. Hence, it’s apparent that the Honourable Supreme Court has relied on the submission of the Indian Government, believing that whatever they submitted was actually being followed in the said case. However, the reality doesn’t look so, as far as the submission and examination of the CAG report by the PAC are concerned.

Also, it is interesting to note here that one contradiction still prevails even after the central government has filed the correction plea with the Supreme Court. This contradiction is with regard to the finalization of the CAG report. While Mr. Kharge claims that the office of the CAG has confirmed that the report on the Rafale deal is not yet ready, the Indian Government has chosen to be silent on this point, even in their correction plea with the court.

Now, who is telling the truth and whose falsehood is going to be short-lived, is something which we the common man, could only hope to know in the near future, if at all. But, one thing is sure that there is a contradictory claim made by the government in their submission to the highest court of India, as against the claim of the PAC Chairman. Whether it’s a typographical error or an intentional misleading tactic is something which we might not know ever. Still, let’s wait and watch how the Honorable Supreme Court takes this correction plea and review its earlier judgement or not.

I wish that may the Almighty give good sense to each one of you.

Stay in touch!

God Bless.

Peyush Jain