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To defend Modi, petitioner lists Congress charges on Rafale

The petition said the court should seek a sealed-cover report in the larger interests of the Prime Minister and the country’s reputation

By R. Balaji in New Delhi

  • Published 9.10.18, 3:37 AM
  • Updated 9.10.18, 8:37 AM
Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi File picture

Mark Antony told his friends, Romans and countrymen that he “came to bury Caesar, not to praise him” and ended up eulogising the assassinated leader so much that Rome rose in revolt against Brutus.

Vineet Dhanda came to the Supreme Court to clear the air on the “ignominious and profligate” allegations against the Prime Minister and ended up listing most allegations the Congress had levelled against Narendra Modi in the Rafale deal.

Dhanda, a Mumbai-based advocate, has approached the top court seeking a directive to the Centre to submit a “sealed-cover” report on the Rafale deal.

“It is respectfully stated that the criticism had reached a proverbial nadir. The critics in the Opposition parties have adopted a very ignominious and profligate way even to criticise the Prime Minister,” the public interest litigation petition said.

The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph listed the matter for hearing on Wednesday, when another petition filed by advocate M.L. Sharma is also likely to come up.

Sharma’s petition has sought quashing of the Rafale deal as illegal and the prosecution of Modi and then defence minister Manohar Parrikar.

Dhanda’s petition has pleaded that the court seek a sealed-cover report in the larger interests of the Prime Minister and the country’s international reputation.

It said the Opposition had started calling the Prime Minister a “thief”. “This has been in the news many times. In addition to this allegation there are several other allegations against the present ruling party and the Prime Minister,” the petition said.

It acknowledged that criticism was a part of democracy but added that a “standard of criticism is required to be maintained”.

“The way the Prime Minister and the government are criticised sends a wrong signal… (to) the world,” the petition said, adding that it had not created a “good impression”.

The petition expressed the fear that foreign governments could “hesitate” to engage in “even healthy agreement” with the Indian dispensation. It said “at least” the Supreme Court needed to know about the deal between the Indian government and Dassault Aviation, the maker of Rafale, “to give a full stop to denigrating statements”.

“Such information on behalf of the Union of India can be furnished before this Hon’ble court in a sealed envelope so that only the Hon’ble Supreme Court can read it. Such information may not be made public due to… defence reasons,” the petition said.

Dhanda quoted media reports on the Congress’s allegation of massive irregularities in the deal and also the claim that the government was procuring each aircraft at Rs 1,670 crore against the UPA-agreed price of Rs 526 crore.

“The party has also demanded answers from the government on why state-run aerospace major HAL was not involved in the deal,” the petition said, adding that the government “has refused to share (price) details, citing a secrecy clause of a 2008 pact between India and France”.

“The Congress’s A.K. Antony, who was defence minister in 2008 when India and France inked an inter-governmental agreement on defence procurement, said the government’s claim that the secrecy clause was forcing it to not reveal price details of the deal was ‘totally wrong’,” the petition added.