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Rafale deal verdict: SC raises bar for review of defence contracts

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New Delhi: Rejecting any judicial intervention in the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft by the government, the Supreme Court said that defence procurement contracts “should be subject to a different degree and depth of judicial review” under Article 32 of the Constitution, and judicial scrutiny will have to be made “keeping in mind the confines of national security”.

“It is our considered opinion… that the extent of permissible judicial review in matters of contracts, procurement, would vary with the subject matter of the contract and there cannot be any uniform standard or depth of judicial review which could be understood as an across the board principle to apply to all cases of award of work or procurement of goods/material. The scrutiny of the challenges before us, therefore, will have to be made keeping in mind the confines of national security, the subject of the procurement being crucial to the nation’s sovereignty,” the bench led by the Chief Justice of India said.

This verdict may shape future cases on issues involving defence procurement. The bench cited previous judicial pronouncements of the Supreme Court on the issue of judicial review of administrative decisions regarding award of tenders and contracts.

 

“The tender is not for construction of roads, bridges, etc. It is a defence tender for procurement of aircraft. The parameter of scrutiny would give far more leeway to the government, keeping in mind the nature of the procurement itself… The triple ground on which such judicial scrutiny is permissible has been consistently held to be ‘illegality’, ‘irrationality’ and ‘procedural impropriety,” the bench said.

“We are satisfied that there is no occasion to really doubt the process, and even if minor deviations have occurred, that would not result in either setting aside the contract or requiring a detailed scrutiny by the court,” it said.

The bench underlined that it will “not be correct” for the court to sit as an “appellate authority” to “scrutinise each aspect of the process of acquisition”.

The bench reiterated that various judicial pronouncements of the Supreme Court emphasise that scrutiny should be limited to the “Wednesbury Principle of Reasonableness and absence of mala fides or favouritism” — a reasoning or decision is Wednesbury unreasonable if it is so unreasonable that no sensible person could have taken such a decision.

“It cannot be lost sight of, that these are contracts of defence procurement which should be subject to a different degree and depth of judicial review… We cannot sit in judgment over the wisdom of deciding to go in for purchase of 36 aircraft in place of 126. We cannot possibly compel the government to go in for purchase of 126 aircraft,” it said.


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National

Chaiwala vs doodhwala: Akhilesh’s battlecry in Azamgarh

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AZAMGARH: Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav coined a new battle slogan to counter Prime Minister Narendra’s chaiwala (tea seller) catchphrase.
“If PM Modi is chaiwala, then we are doodhwala. Without good milk, good tea cannot be made,” said the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister while addressing a rally at Baitholi bypass after filing his nomination from Azamgarh parliamentary constituency for the Lok Sabha election 2019 .
Targetting PM Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the SP chief said, “BJP is calling the alliance of SP, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal as Mahamilawat. And what will be the coalition of 38 parties be called?”
Ahead of the general election, SP, BSP and RLD announced their alliance on March 6. BSP is contesting on 38 seats, SP on 37 and RLD on three seats in Uttar Pradesh.
In a subtle reference to UP CM Yogi Adityanath while urging voters to remove the “dictatorial” BJP government in the state, Yadav said, “BSP, RLD and SP will hold a new history. First the chowkidar will go away from the country and then the thekedar too.”
“The BJP showed just dreams to everyone, but did not even complete the work. BJP’s talk starts with the toilet and ends there. In any case, there is no special difference between the Congress and BJP in the matter of toilets. If one digs a pit for the toilet then the other has two crates,” said the 45-year-old SP chief.
The SP chief said Azamgarh is the ‘karmabhoomi’ of ‘samajwadis’ and that the SP-BSP-RLD coaliton is an alliance of ‘mahaparivartan’ (grand change) and not ‘mahamilawat’ (adulteration) as alleged by the BJP.
Thousands of BSP supporters joined SP chief and raised slogans like Kaam bolta hai (work speaks).
Akhilesh Yadav is seeking election Azamgarh, a seat won by his father Mulayam Singh Yadav in the 2014 general elections. The BJP has pitted Bhojpuri superstar Nirahua or Dinesh Lal Yadav against him.
Uttar Pradesh is witnessing polling during all seven phases of the election. The first and second phases were held on April 11 and April 18. The next phases are scheduled to be held on April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19. The votes will be counted on May 23.

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Hardik Patel slapped at a Gujarat rally

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New Delhi : Congress leader Hardik Patel was slapped at a public meeting in Gujarat on Friday morning. Patel was slapped in Gujarats Surendernagar district during a Jan Aakrosh Sabha.
Television visuals showed Patel was slapped when he was addressing the gathering. A man could be seen walking on the stage and slap Patel from his right side. Soon, others present at the venue climbed the stage and caught hold of the man.
The man was later detained, reports said.
The incident came a day after a farmer refused to let Patels chopper land on his field. This led to the delay in Congress leaders visit to Lunawada in Gujarats Mahisagar district at the last moment.

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Not going to retire; will be by Rahul’s side when he becomes PM: Deve Gowda

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Bengaluru: Former prime minister and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda has said that unlike BJP veteran LK Advani, he is not going to retire from active politics, and that if Rahul Gandhi becomes the Prime Minister of the country, he will be by his side.
Talking about his decision to contest the Lok Sabha polls, Deve Gowda said, “I announced three years back that I will not contest elections. There are circumstances now in which I have been forced to contest. There is nothing to hide. I have no ambition of anything but what I always said is that I am not going to retire from active politics.”
Deve Gowda is contesting from Karnataka’s Tumkur parliamentary constituency against GS Basvaraj of BJP.
When asked if he wants to retire like Advani, he replied with an emphatic ‘no’, adding, “I want to save my party first and last the office building.”
Commenting on his son and Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s statement that there is a possibility that Deve Gowda might become the Prime Minister as a consensus candidate, he said: “I am not bothered about this. My concern is Modi will come to Parliament. I have got the guts and conviction to tell it to the face of the PM. I have the courage. If Rahul Gandhi becomes the Prime Minister, I will sit by his side. It is not necessary to become the Prime Minister.”
Speaking about his commitment to the Congress, he said: “Madam Sonia Gandhi has taken the decision to support Deve Gowda even though we are a small party. Now it is my responsibility to move forward with Congress, though I do agree in some states there is no question of any coalition. But in Tamil Nadu, there is a coalition between Congress and DMK and with Sharad Pawar’s party in Maharashtra.”
Responding to accusations of saving the family rather than the party, the JD(S) chief said: “Several leaders who worked with me collectively, have left. Some people are in Congress, some in BJP. I was able to keep the party intact but suffered. I have not allowed my family members to become president of the party.”

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