In the midst of a political firestorm with the opposition accusing the government of misleading the Supreme Court on the Rafale deal, the Centre on Saturday moved the court seeking correction in the portion of its judgment where references were made to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, saying “misinterpretation” of the government’s note submitted to the court had resulted in a “controversy in the public domain”.

The Centre said the note rightly mentioned that it “has already shared” the price details with the CAG. However, it pointed out while the note said the CAG report “is” examined by Parliament’s PAC, the order conveys the impression that the findings of the auditor have already been shared with the parliamentary panel.

Govt plea likely to be heard after Jan 2

In its petition, the Centre pointed out that “error” in two sentences in paragraph 25 of the judgment, which appeared to have been based on its note given to the court in a sealed cover, gave a different interpretation to what the government had stated, leading to the controversy.

As the court has gone for winter recess and most of the judges are out of Delhi, it is unlikely that the three-judge bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices A K Kaul and K M Joseph will assemble to take up the application during vacation and it could be listed only when the court reopens on January 2.

In its petition, the government has contended that the wrong impression was created because of the replacement of the word “is”, which was used in the note to describe the procedure, with the words “has been”. “The very fact that the present tense ‘is’ was used would mean that the reference was to the procedure which will be followed as and when the CAG report is ready,” it said, pointing to the parliamentary practice where CAG’s reports are mandatorily shared with PAC.

The government further said its note referred only to parliamentary procedure when it said that a redacted version of the CAG report is placed before Parliament, but a mix-up of tenses with “is” being substituted by “was” conveyed a strong sense. “Similarly, the statement that only a redacted version of the report ‘is’ placed before Parliament, is referred to in the judgement as “only a redacted portion of the report was placed before Parliament, and is in public domain.” the petition said.

It claimed that it never told the court that the CAG report has been examined by PAC, and reproduced the exact formulation that was used in the note to the court. “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 the Parliament and in public domain,” the petition quoted from its submission.

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