Under attack from the opposition, the government on Saturday moved the Supreme Court seeking correction of its order on Friday in the Rafale verdict, saying a note submitted by it in a sealed cover has led to misinterpretation about a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report being examined by the PAC, leading to an error in the judgment.
In an application filed before the top court, the government said it is seeking correction with regard to two sentences in paragraph 25 of the judgment delivered on Friday.
“The error in these two sentences, as explained hereinafter, appears to have occurred, perhaps, on account of misinterpretation of a couple of sentences in a note handed over to this court in a sealed cover. The observations in the judgment have also resulted in a controversy in the public domain, and would warrant correction by this court in the interest of justice.”
The Centre’s application followed the Congress allegation that the government has not produced the facts correctly before the Supreme Court and has “lied” in the court. The party, quoting from the judgment said, the government told the court that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has examined the CAG report on Rafale whereas no such report exists.
In paragraph 25 of the judgment, the court has observed that “the pricing details have, however, been shared with the CAG, and the report of the CAG has been examined by the PAC. Only a redacted portion of the report was placed before Parliament and is in public domain.”
The government said in its application that these statements appear to have been based on the note submitted by the Union of India, along with the pricing details, in two sealed covers.
These notes in sealed covers, the government said, were submitted in compliance with the court’s October 31 order, in which it had said it would like to be apprised about the details about the pricing/ cost, particularly the advantage thereof, if any, which again would be submitted to the court in a sealed cover.
In that note, which was in the form of bullet points, the government said the second point carried the sentence “the government has already shared the pricing details with the CAG. The report of the CAG is examined by the PAC. Only a redacted version of the report is placed before Parliament and in public domain.”
The government said it may be noted that what has already been done is described by the words in the past tense, that is, the government “has already shared” the price details with the CAG. “This is in the past tense and is factually correct. The second part of the sentence, in regard to the PAC, is to the effect that ‘the report of the CAG is examined by the PAC.’
“However, in the judgment, the reference to the word ‘is’ has been replaced with the words ‘has been’, and the sentence in the judgment (with regard to PAC) reads ‘the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee’.”
The government maintained that its submission to the effect that the report to the CAG “is” examined by the PAC was a description of the procedure which is followed in the normal course in regard to reports of the CAG.
“The very fact that the present tense ‘is’ used would mean that the reference is to the procedure which will be followed as and when the CAG report is ready.”
Similarly, the government said the statement that only a redacted version of the report ‘is’ placed before Parliament is referred to in the judgment as “only redacted portion of the report was placed before Parliament and is in public domain.”
“That unfortunately, an element of misinterpretation of the statement made in the note/ bullet points handed over on behalf of the Union of India in a sealed cover, appears to have crept in. This has also resulted in a controversy being raised in the public domain.”
In this background, the government has urged the court for corrections in para 25 of the judgment, so that “any doubts and/or any misunderstanding is not allowed to creep into the judgment.”
It pleaded that the words “report on the CAG is examined by the PAC. Only a redacted version is placed before parliament and public domain” may be substituted in place of “and the report of the CAG has been examined by the PAC. Only a redacted portion of the report has been placed before Parliament and is in public domain.”
In a bid to keep the pot boiling, PAC Chairman Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday said he will press for summoning the Attorney General and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to ask them when was the public auditor’s report tabled and when did the PAC examine it?