New Delhi: In a setback to the central government, the Supreme Court today has rejected its ‘preliminary objections’. This allows the inclusion of three documents in the Rafale deal as evidence in the court while it re-examines the review petitions filed against the December 14 judgment. 

Earlier, the government had tried to claim this information about the leaked Rafale documents as ‘privileged’ under Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act. It had requested the apex court not to consider the papers as evidence while re-examining its verdict on the Rafale fighter jet deal. 

Today’s ruling sets a precedent in the court where a document published by the media can be taken as evidence. It may be recalled that the story by N Ram in The Hindu is disputed. Right after it was published, Twitter users trended #CropItLikeHindu.

It so happened that an officer in the ministry of defence had objected to the oversight of the Prime Minister’s Office on the India-France government-to-government contract for Rafale jets. To that, the then defence minister Manohar Parrikar had added a note saying that it was normal as the French president was monitoring the French defence ministry’s handling of the Rafale deal as well. Ram allegedly cropped out Parikkar’s note from the document while publishing the story. 

One of the petitioners Arun Shourie had asked for a review of the verdict and said, “These are sensitive documents relating to defence, but that was precisely what we said too — that because they are documents of importance, they must be treated as part of supporting documents.”

In December, the apex court had rejected the petition that accused the government of deliberately procuring 36 Rafale fighter jets at an inflated price to help Anil Ambani’s newly formed defence firm get an offset contract with jet-maker Dassault Aviation.

MyNation, in a series of reports on the deal, has, in the meantime, revealed the following:

1.      That the Rafale jets ordered by the NDA government are cheaper than those for which the UPA government’s negotiations with France had failed

2.      That Anil Ambani’s firm is only one of the 100 offset partners of Dassault Aviation that makes Rafale

3.      That the contract that Ambani’s firm has got is not of Rafale

4.      That the UPA government had partnered with the Ambanis too

5.      That François Hollande denied he had said the Indian government had pressured him to partner with Ambani’s firm for the deal

6.      That Dassault Aviation has rubbished the allegations made by the Congress as well as Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha

7.      That IAF officers have said that Rafale was the best choice

8.      That the HAL head has said that his organisation could not have been a part of the deal because HAL does not take offset contracts

The Supreme Court in its ruling has said that there is no reason to question the decision-making process of the government.  It added, as far as the question of hearing of the review plea on Rafale judgment is concerned, that will go for a detailed hearing later on.