Review Petition No. 46/2019
Article 32, 19(2)
The Ministry of Defence issued the tenders for the purchase of 126 fighter aircrafts in 2007. The Union would purchase 18 from abroad in ‘fly-away’ condition, while 108 would be manufactured in India by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) through a ‘transfer of technology’ from a French company Dassault. But in March 2015, PM Narendra Modi and the President of France announced a new deal for the purchase of only 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts. The tender earlier announced was subsequently withdrawn. In October 2016, Dassault and Reliance Group announced a joint venture with Dassault specifying that they intend to invest $115 million to partially fulfill its offset obligation.
A petition was filed in 2018 claiming that the Rafale Deal had some procedural irregularities. The court pronounced its judgment on 14 November 2018. The court observed that it found no irregularity in the decision making process and reached its conclusion on the basis of evidence provided by the State. On 21 February 2019, they agreed to hear the review petition challenging the judgment filed by Yashwant Sinha, Prashant Bhushan and Arun Shourie.
The court observed that no law enacted by Parliament specifically barring or prohibiting the publication of such documents on any of the grounds mentioned in Article 19(2) of the Constitution has been brought to it’s notice. he Court noticed that there is no provision in the Official Secrets Act and no such provision in any other statute by which Parliament has vested any power in the executive arm of the government either to restrain publication of documents marked as secret or from placing such documents before a Court of Law which may have been called upon to adjudicate a legal issue concerning the parties.
On 14th November, the court dismissed the review petitions, emphasizing that it had limited scrutiny of defence contracts under its Article 32 jurisdiction.
The Trustees of H.C. Dhanda Trust (Appellant), by invoking Civil Appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India, filed an appeal against the two judgements of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh delivered by Learned Single Judge and Division Bench. It was a dispute of unpaid stamp duty to the Collector under jurisdiction arose on a gift deed.