Rafale verdict: Govt moves SC seeking correction in para on PAC examination

New Delhi [India], Dec 15 (ANI): A day after the Supreme Court verdict in the Rafale fighter deal case, the government on Saturday filed an application before it, seeking a correction in the order to make it clear that the pricing aspect, examined by the CAG, has not been looked into by Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as yet. The Union of India (UOI) sought urgent correction in the wording of a particular paragraph in the order "in the interests of justice and in the facts and circumstances of the case", while noting that "the observations in the judgement have resulted in a controversy." In its application, accessed by the ANI, the union government pointed out that error in two sentences appears to have occurred, perhaps, on account of a misinterpretation of a couple of sentences in a note handed over to the Apex Court in a sealed cover. The government clarified that it had only submitted a "description of procedure" by the CAG, which the Supreme Court appears to have mistaken "is" for "has been". The government's application refers to Para 25 of the judgement which reads: "The pricing details have, however, been shared with Comptroller and Auditor General [hereinafter referred to as "CAG"], and the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee [hereinafter referred to as "PAC"]. Only a redacted portion of the report was placed before the Parliament and is in public domain." It said these statements "appear to have been based on the note submitted by the Union of India, along with the pricing details, in two sealed covers" to the Apex court. "In the said note, which was in the form of bullet points, the second bullet point carries the following sentences: 'The Government has already shared the pricing details with the CAG. The report of the CAG is examined by the PAC. Only a redacted version of the report is placed before the Parliament and in public domain'," the government application read. The government application added, "It would be noted that what has already been done is described by words in the past tense, i.e. the Government 'has already shared' the price details with the CAG. This is in the past tense and is factually correct. "The second part of the sentence, in regard to the PAC, is to the effect that 'the report of the CAG is examined by the PAC'. However, in the judgment, the reference to the word 'is' has been replaced with the words 'has been', and the sentence in the judgment (with regard to the PAC) reads 'the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee'." In the application, the government said, "the submission by the Union of India, to the effect that the report of the CAG 'is'examined by the PAC, was description of the procedure which is followed in the normal reference is to the procedure which will be followed as and when the CAG report is ready." It went on to add, "that unfortunately, an element of misinterpretation of the statement made in the note/bullet points handed over on behalf of the Union of India in the sealed cover, appears to have crept in. This has also resulted in a controversy being raised in the public domain." Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, who is also the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, has already said that no CAG report regarding the pricing aspect of Rafale deal had come before the PAC. He had accused the government of misleading the court on the issue. The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed petitions seeking a probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the Rafale deal signed two years back, alleging irregularities and corruption in the pact. The court said it does not find any substantial material on record to show that this is a case of commercial favouritism to any party by the Government of India. The deal was announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to France in April 2015 and the deal was concluded in 2016. The Congress and some other opposition parties had been alleging that the due processes were not followed in the decision to procure 36 aircraft from French company Dassault. The court, in a 29-page judgement, underlined that the need for the aircraft is not in doubt, neither is the quality of the aircraft in question. Earlier, the UPA government had issued tender for procurement of 126 aircraft and Rafale plane was finalised from among five bidders. (ANI)
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