Former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan moved the Supreme Court on Monday seeking initiation of perjury proceedings against central government officials for allegedly giving “false or misleading” information in a sealed cover in the high-profile Rafale case.
The top court on December 14 last year dismissed a clutch of pleas, including the one filed by Mr Sinha, Mr Shourie and Mr Bhushan, saying that there was “no occasion to doubt” the decision-making process of the centre in the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France.
The three, who filed the plea seeking review of the verdict, filed a fresh application under section 340 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) seeking perjury prosecution against the officials responsible for providing “false” and “misleading” information to the top court in a sealed cover.
The top court had sought information from the centre about the pricing details and the decision making process undertaken by the government before sealing the Rs. 56,000 crore fighter jets deal.
The prosecution of the officials has been sought under section 193 and 195 of the IPC which deal with the offences of giving false evidence, contempt of lawful authority of public servants and giving false documents in evidence.
“The information that has come into the public domain after the judgement of court was delivered prima facie shows that government ”misled” the court on various counts and the basis of the judgement of the court is more than one untruth submitted by the government and suppression of pertinent information.
“The untruths and suppression of information in the ‘notes” constitute perjury and also contempt as the ‘notes” were submitted pursuant to the orders of the court,” the plea said.
The plea, which has been filed in the disposed of plea, said that the note on pricing was not shared with the petitioners.
“From the notes on the ”decision making process” and ”offsets”, and Judgement of the court based on ‘notes” submitted by the government, more than one untruth and suppressions are apparent,” it said.
The plea also gave the details of “misleading facts”, as per their opinion, to the court.
The suppression of information by the government deprived the court of complete facts and it led to dismissal of the PILs, the plea said, adding that the errant officials who misled the court be identified and suitably dealt with.
Referring to the CAG’s audit of the deal, the plea said: “There was no CAG report at the time. The Government misled the court into relying on non-existent fact/report as basis of its observation on pricing in the judgement.
“Instead of admitting that it misled the court, by way of an application for ”correction”, government imputes that Justices …have misinterpreted tenses in English grammar in like manner individually and severally…”.
The government’s act of stating “untruth” to the court in a sealed cover on ”pricing” and its subsequent “scandalous” plea for modification have lowered the “sanctity of judicial proceedings”, it said.
The plea also referred to recent media reports and alleged suppression of “unauthorised parallel negotiations” by the by the PMO and bypassing of the Ministry of Defence and the Indian Negotiating Team (INT).
Advocate ML Sharma was the first petitioner in the case. Later, another lawyer, Vineet Dhanda, moved the top court with the plea for court-monitored probe into the deal. AAP leader Sanjay Singh also filed a petition.
After the three petitions were filed, former union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie along with activist advocate Prashant Bhushan moved the top court with a plea for a direction to the CBI to register a complaint for alleged irregularities in the deal.