Three petitioners have moved the Supreme Court seeking initiation of perjury proceedings against officials of the central government officials for allegedly giving ‘false or misleading’ information in a sealed cover to the top court in the high-profile Rafale fighter jets deal case. Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, as well as activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan, moved the top court on Monday saying that the government’s act of stating ‘untruth’ to the court has lowered the ‘sanctity of judicial proceedings.’
The apex 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.
According to news agency PTI, the plea said that 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.’
The apex court on December 14 last year dismissed a clutch of PILs, including the one filed by Sinha, Shourie and 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 trio filed a fresh application under section 340 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) seeking perjury prosecution against the officials responsible for providing ‘false’ and ‘misleading’ information to the apex court in a sealed cover.
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, news agency PTI reported.
The plea stated that the suppression of information by the government has deprived the court of complete facts and it led to the dismissal of the PILs, 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 the basis of its observation on pricing in the judgement.”
“The information that has come into the public domain after the judgement of the 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,” it added.
“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 PIL, 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 referred to recent media reports and alleged suppression of ‘unauthorised parallel negotiations’ 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, Vineet Dhanda, also a lawyer, moved the apex court with the plea for a court-monitored probe. AAP leader Sanjay Singh had also filed a petition.
After the three petitions were filed, Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan moved the top court for a direction to the CBI to register an FIR for alleged irregularities in the deal.