SC allows Centre’s plea to defer Rafale hearing

New Delhi: Acting on Centre’s plea to defer the Rafael verdict review hearing fixed for Tuesday on grounds that it needs time to file reply on merits, the Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Centre to circulate a letter for adjournment of the hearing.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi permitted the Centre’s counsel to circulate the letter regarding the deferement among parties, including petitioners, who filed review pleas in the apex court.

The top court had on April 10 allowed the pleas asking the court to review its judgement on Rafale deal based on media reports on leaked documents, and also urged the court to dismiss the government’s objections claiming “privilege” on the documents.

The Centre had contended before the court that the three privileged documents were unauthorisedly removed from the government ministry concerned, and then these documents were used by the petitioner to file review petition challenging the top court judgment of December 14, 2018.

In the December 14, 2018 judgment, the court had dismissed all pleas challenging the Rafale fighter jets deal.

India and France got into a deal in 2015 for the procurement of fighter jets.

The Centre has contended that the documents were protected under the Official Secrets Act, and therefore, not admissible as evidence in the court, but the Supreme Court rejected it.

The court noted that the documents were published in consonance with the freedom of speech guaranteed under the Constitution.