Rafale 'lie': Cong gives breach of privilege notices in both Houses

Rafale 'lie': Cong gives breach of privilege notices in both Houses
Congress' leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, gave the notice in the Lower House.

New Delhi: The Congress on Monday gave notices of breach of privilege in both Houses of the Parliament, demanding an explanation from the Centre on why it provided the Supreme Court "wrong" information on the Rafale deal.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad sent the notice to the Upper House chairman, while Congress' leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, gave the notice in the Lower House.

"I have given a breach of privilege notice against the government and, in particular, against Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad as it was the Law Ministry that gave the go ahead for presenting the affidavit before the Supreme Court," Azad said.

"It is understood that the affidavit was in the knowledge of the prime minister, which provided wrong information. This government can speak a lie even to the Supreme Court and send a wrong affidavit to it and thus mislead the Parliament and the entire country. We have no faith in such a government," he said, adding it was for the first time that a government had provided wrong information to the Supreme Court.

"This is why our demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) becomes more relevant. We demand that a JPC be formed to probe the theft in the Rafale deal," Azad said, noting that they would continue to make the demand till the government accepts it.

Another Congress leader, Kapil Sibal, said the government was trying to mislead the Supreme Court as well as the entire country. "It is a sin to do politics of lies. This sinful government will have to suffer."

Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said it was a serious issue as "misrepresentation and falsehood" of facts before the Supreme Court calls for contempt of court.

"There is a direct infringement of parliamentary privilege. You have tried to mislead the court to get a stamp of approval on false facts like CAG, like PAC, like HAL. All of which have a direct connection with the discussions, content and direction of parliamentary work. (The) CAG and (the) PAC fall exclusively in the parliamentary domain.

"What is your attempt? Your attempt is to get a stamp of approval by distortion and falsehood from the Supreme Court and then use the stamp of approval to mislead the Parliament further when that is direct infringement of parliamentary privilege. We hope and trust that both Houses will take it up, take it up seriously," he said.

Singhvi said the Centre had misled the top court and a case of contempt of court and perjury is made out, besides a case of breach of privilege of Parliament.

Azad said there had been six JPCs -- from Bofors to many issues -- with four under the Congress rule and two formed during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, and asked why the same cannot be ordered on a "scam" of over Rs 41,000 crore.

"We have no faith in this government as it is misleading the Supreme Court by giving false information and is also misleading the people of the country," he alleged.

Azad said it was a reality that neither the CAG had given the report to the PAC, nor the PAC seen it and there was nothing in public domain.

"I am very sorry that there was no discussion on the privilege, but it is our demand that the chairman of Rajya Sabha and the Speaker of Lok Sabha should accept the privilege (notice) and, along with that, our demand of the JPC has also become even more necessary.

"The Supreme Court is supreme, but it has been misled by the government. What the government will tell the court, we do not know, but the JPC is the only way through which we can catch this theft," Azad said.

The Congress, through its notices, is demanding answers from the law minister on why the government provided wrong information to the Supreme Court about the CAG report on the Rafale-pricing issue, he said.

The party had on Sunday urged the apex court to recall its Rafale judgment and issue notices to the central government for contempt of court and perjury, alleging the Centre provided false information to the apex court.

The Supreme Court had on Friday dismissed pleas alleging irregularities in the Rafale deal, saying there was no occasion to "really doubt the decision-making process" warranting setting aside of the defence contract for purchase of 36 fighter jets.

In its judgment, the court made a reference to a CAG report on the aircraft deal. It said the CAG report was examined by the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament.

But, the Congress insisted that the government presented "wrong facts" before the court during the hearing of pleas challenging the aircraft deal with France.

On Saturday, the Centre moved the top court seeking correction in the judgment, saying "misinterpretation" of its note "resulted in a controversy in the public domain".

The Centre made it clear that it did not say the CAG report was examined by the PAC or a redacted portion was placed before Parliament. It clarified that the note had said the government "has already shared" the price details with CAG, written in past tense and "is factually correct".

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