CJI blames lawyers for holdup in Rafale cases

The petitioners said the CAG was an independent constitutional body accountable only to the Parliament.

New Delhi: The Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Friday indicated that the delay in listing the batch of petitions filed by the Centre and others for modification of the Rafale judgment was due to the lawyers not ‘curing defects’ in the petitions.

The Centre filed an application on December 15, 2018 to modify the December 14 verdict of the apex court. Thereafter advocate Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha and Aam Admi party MP Sanjay Singh filed review petitions for reconsideration and all petitions are not listed for hearing though two months had passed.

On Friday when a lawyer complained to a bench of CJI Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna that his petition was not being listed and the Registry was delaying it, the CJI orally observed, “the registry may not be at fault. The lapse in some cases lies with the lawyers too. They do not cure defects in their petitions on time for an early hearing of their cases.”

In an apparent reference to the delay in listing of Rafale petitions, the CJI said, “The other side (lawyers) are not so innocent. Instead of correcting the defects, these petitioners (review petitioners in the Rafale case) go to the media and claim wide publicity.” Thus he made it clear that the delay is because of lawyers.

The Centre, which filed the application on December 15, last did not bother to make a ‘mention’ for early listing of the case and there are statements that the court is delaying the hearing of the petitions.

The Centre in its application submitted that the judgment erred in English grammar to misinterpret the information submitted to it in a ‘sealed cover note’ about the pricing of the 36 Rafale jets deal. Mr. Bhushan and others contended that the judgment is riddled with fault lines. They wanted the apex court to re-consider its erroneous judgment, which relies on a non-existent CAG report to uphold the Rafale deal.

They pointed out that the judgment based on a hypothetical CAG report was not merely a clerical or arithmetical slip but a substantial error. They wanted a recall of the verdict.

The petitioners said the CAG was an independent constitutional body accountable only to the Parliament. The government's claim that the CAG's final report on Rafale would be in a redacted form was simply untrue. In fact, the government cannot dictate to the CAG what should or should not be redacted. The petitioners also drew the attention of the court that the judgment holding that lack of sovereign guarantee from the French government as a minor deviation which is not correct.

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