Supreme Court rejects Centre's plea, to hear Rafale on merit

New Delhi: In a big setback to the Modi-led NDA government, the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the Centre's "preliminary objections", allowing the admissibility of three documents in the Rafale deal as evidence in re-examining the review petitions filed against the SC's December 14 judgement.

Earlier the government had claimed "privilege" over the leaked Rafale documents under Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act and told the court these papers couldn't be considered as bases to re-examine its verdict on the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal. The Supreme Court has also said "as far as the question of hearing of review plea on Rafale judgement is concerned, it will give a detailed hearing later on".

"We dismiss the preliminary objection raised by Union of India questioning the maintainability of the review petition," a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph said. The court said it will go ahead with the hearing on the review petition on the basis of new documents referred by petitioners.

The CJI pronounced the verdict on his behalf and for Justice SK Kaul. The second concurrent judgment was pronounced by Justice KM Joseph, who said he agreed with the conclusion of the judgment written by the CJI. The Chief Justice said Justice Joseph agreed with the judgment delivered by him but gave different reasoning.

The judgment makes it clear that during the hearing of the review petition, the bench will look into not only the question of pricing of the jet but also selection of Indian offset partner of Dassault which manufactures Rafale.

The top court said review petitions against its December 14 verdict dismissing all petitions against procurement of Rafale jets will be decided on merits. The apex court said it will fix a date for hearing review petitions.

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