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Death of Justice Loya needs to be probed at the highest level of the Supreme Court: Rahul

The judges, who are most-senior at the top court after the Chief Justice – said that “things are not in order” with what they described as “the administration of the Supreme Court”.

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Rahul Gandhi

The Congress on Friday described the comments made by four Supreme Court judges as “extremely disturbing” and appealed to the Full Court of the Supreme Court to find solutions to preserve the independence of the judiciary even as party President Rahul Gandhi demanded that its senior-most judges should supervise an SIT probe into the mysterious death of Special CBI Judge B.H. Loya.

The Congress issued a statement after Gandhi met senior party leaders, including P. Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal who are also leading lawyers, and discussed the situation arising out of the press conference by four senior-most judges — Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B. Lokur — who were critical of Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

The Congress and Gandhi demanded that the PIL concerning the death of Judge B.H. Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin fake shootout case, should be entrusted to the senior-most judges of the Supreme Court who should ensure a thorough and impartial investigation of the case by an independent SIT.

Gandhi, who made a brief statement to the media, said it was “a sensitive and important matter” and that “the points raised by the judges are extremely important”.

“The points that have been raised by the four judges are extremely important. They have mentioned that there is a threat to democracy. I think it needs to be looked into carefully.

“They have also made a point about Judge Loya’s case. I think that is also something that needs to be investigated properly. It needs to be looked at from the highest levels of the Supreme Court.”

He said the press conference by judges “never happened before”.

“It’s unprecedented. I think all citizens who love the idea of justice, who believe in the Supreme Court are looking at this issue.”

Calling it an “unprecedented development”, the Congress the observations made by the four judges and the issues raised by them in the press conference and in the letter to the Chief Justice were “extremely disturbing and have far reaching consequences for the values that we hold sacred: safeguarding democracy and preserving the independence of the judiciary”.

It said the judges have specifically highlighted two issues. “The long silence of the government of India to the Memorandum of Procedure that was finalised by the Supreme Court and the assignment of cases in the Supreme Court to what is described as ‘selectively to the benches of their preference without any rational basis for such assignment’.

“In answer to a question from the media, the judges referred to the PIL concerning the death of Judge Loya, which the family of Judge Loya believes was under suspicious circumstances.”

The statement said the judges in their letter have also hinted at other instances which they will raise later.

“The press conference and the letter followed a meeting of the four judges with the Chief Justice of India this morning which, apparently, failed to resolve the issues and obliged the four judges to address a press conference.

“The Congress party is deeply perturbed by these developments. The country holds the judiciary in the highest esteem and millions of people knock on the doors of the courts seeking justice. The non-finalisation of the Memorandum of Procedure has left nearly 40 per cent of the sanctioned posts of the judges vacant, leading to delay in justice delivery.”

The statement earnestly appealed that the Full Court of the Supreme Court should take up the issues raised by the four judges and find solutions that are consistent with the traditions and conventions of the judiciary pointed out by them and that will preserve the independence of the judiciary.

“In the PIL concerning the death of Judge Loya, we believe that the matter must be entrusted to the senior most judges of the Supreme Court who should ensure that under their supervision there is a thorough and impartial investigation of the case by an independent SIT.

“In the matter of assignment of cases, the established conventions and traditions of the courts must be followed and the selective assignment of cases must be stopped forthwith. Cases that have far reaching implications to society and governance must be heard, in accordance with well established conventions, by the senior most judges of the Supreme Court.”

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BJP accuses Gandhi of lies after SC verdict, Congress hits back

Rahul Gandhi attacked Modi and persisted with demand for a JPC which, he said, would expose the “lies”.

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New Delhi, Dec 15 : Buoyed by the Supreme Court relief to the government in the Rafale deal, BJP President Amit Shah and a battery of ministers attacked Congress President Rahul Gandhi for his campaign of “lies” and demanded an apology to the nation.

However, Gandhi, hit back saying the nation knew that there was “corruption” in the deal and repeated his jibe that “watchman is a thief” who helped a private industralist.

While Gandhi and his party leaders demanded constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), maintaining that it can alone bring out the truth, the government and the BJP leaders rejected it. They said the Congress should come and debate in the House instead of disrupting it.

Shortly after a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi rejected a bunch of petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the controversial fighter jet deal, the top guns of BJP addressed various press conferences to come down heavily on Rahul Gandhi for his campaign against the government and the Prime Minister.

They said now that the Supreme Court has given its judgement, all debate should end.

In both Houses of Parliament which were disrupted on the issue, Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanded that Gandhi should apologise for throwing “false” allegations.

In Rajya Sabha, Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley challenged the Congress for a debate on the issue.

BJP President Amit Shah held a press conference and demanded that Gandhi apologise to the nation for his “brazen lies” accusing the government and said he should also disclose the source of information for his attacks.

Shah said truth had triumphed and Gandhi’s “lies” had no legs to stand on.

Quoting from the judgement, Shah said the court expressed satisfaction with the process followed in purchasing the aircraft and set aside the demands of the petitioners for a probe into the matter.

He said the court agreed with the government’s contention that the country had financially benefited in the deal.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressed a press conference with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and rejected the Congress’ demand for a JPC probe into the Rafale aircraft deal.

He said the “family” was not above the Supreme Court in a democracy, the apex court verdict was absolute and conclusive and the “truth in such matters come from judicial process and not on the basis of political partisan lines”.

Gandhi, who has spearheaded attack on Rafale, also addressed a press conference and accused the government of telling “lies”. He raised questions over the statement that a parliamentary committee had examined the pricing details of the Rafale deal and asserted that there was no such meeting.

He attacked Modi and persisted with demand for a JPC which, he said, would expose the “lies”.

Citing the Supreme Court judgement that referred to a parliamentary committee having examined the price details of the fighter jet, he said no such meeting was held.

“Today Supreme Court gave a judgement and I want to read three lines from it. ‘The pricing details have, however, been shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).’ This is the foundation of the judgment,” Gandhi said.

Party leader Mallikarjun Kharge, the PAC Chairman, who was at the press conference, said no such report came before the panel and the CAG was also not aware of it.

Kharge had earlier told reporters in the Parliament that the government of was trying to hide its “theft” in the Rafale deal behind a court ruling.

“They are trying to hide the theft under the guise” of PIL-triggered court judgement, he said.

“Our demand continues to be JPC. They want to hide behind the judgement… We will not tolerate this, nor will the people of the country.”

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewal alleged there was “multi-layered corruption” in the deal.

“We know that the Supreme Court has no powers to look into all the aspects. So the Congress never went to the Supreme Court. I challenge (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi (to go) for a JPC probe.”

Former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan expressed shock and disappointment over the verdict and said it “neither addressed the documented facts nor dealt with their main prayer seeking an investigation into the deal to purchase the French fighter jets”.

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Jaitley rejects Congress’ demand for JPC on Rafale

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Arun Jaitley

New Delhi, Dec 14 : Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday rejected the Congress’ demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Rafale aircraft deal and said the “family” was not above the Supreme Court in a democracy.

Addressing a press conference here with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman hours after the Supreme Court dismissed petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the purchase of 36 Rafale jet fighters, Jaitley said the apex court verdict was absolute and conclusive and the “truth in such matters come from judicial process and not on the basis of political partisan lines”.

“Was there any partiality in the deal? Was nation’s security compromised? Was the due process not followed? Truth in such cases is found through judicial process and not by dividing on partisan basis. Investigations can never be done and reviews of this can never be done by a body of partisan division,” he said.

Jaitley referred to the JPC over Bofors guns deal and said it was divided on political lines and conclusions of its chairman were subsequently rejected by courts.

He did not name Congress President Rahul Gandhi but accused him of spreading lies and attacked him repeatedly.

“In politics all over the world there is a tradition that if you lie, you resign or can be impeached. Presidents have been impeached for speaking lies. At least this should happen. Till yesterday Congress was demanding a discussion on Rafale. Today we said start it immediately. Those who built untruth, they should keep it in Parliament,” he said.

Asked about Gandhi’s allegation of crony capitalism, he said “people not able to understand complex issues rely on such slogans”.

“That is my understanding of his politics,” Jaitley said and termed Gandhi’s allegations of procedures not being followed in the deal as “fiction writing”.

Asked about the Congress stance that judiciary was not the right forum to decide about the deal, Jaitley alleged that the narrative was being created by Nehru-Gandhi family.

“They refuse to accept even the Supreme Court verdict just because of falsehood created by a family. In our democracy, family is not above the Supreme Court. Do they think the untruth of a family is above the Supreme Court?”

He said there was a fundamental difference between truth and falsehood.

“The truth always holds together, explains everything but falsehood was bound to fall apart, indeed it has a short life. In this case, it is few months. Falsehood lowers credibility of creator. The Rafale issue had each of these features. The disrupters have lost and lost on all counts,” he said.

Jaitley said the Congress lost on the count that the need for the fighter jet was “acute and necessary”.

“Why was national security compromised, the need of Indian Air Force compromised,” he asked.

Rejecting charges about the government’s involvement in the award of offsets, he said government had nothing to do with it and Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale fighter jet, had taken the decision.

Asked about the different prices given by the government and by Rahul Gandhi of the Rafale fighter jet, Jaitley said “government is correct and all figures given by Rahul Gandhi are wrong”.

He said the government had stated that the price of basic Rafale fighter was nine per cent cheaper compared to the cost negotiated by the UPA government and that of weaponised aircraft was 20 per cent cheaper at 2016 prices.

He said escalation clauses in the agreement were differently worded and there would be further increase in prices. “Truth only has one version. Falsehood has many,” Jaitley said.

Sitharaman said if the Congress does not stop its allegations, it will also be exposed politically.

The Congress on Friday accused the government of trying to hide its “theft” in the Rafale deal behind the court ruling and persisted with its demand for a JPC inquiry.

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RAW and IB chiefs’ tenure extended

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RAW and IB chiefs

New Delhi, Dec 14: The central government on Friday extended by six months the tenure of A.K. Dhasmana, Secretary, Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) and Rajiv Jain, Director, Intelligence Bureau (IB).

The extensions were approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).

Jain’s tenure was to end on December 30 and that of Dhasmana on December 29.

The ACC also re-designated NITI Aayog advisor as “Principal Advisor.”

IANS

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