India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election campaign rally in Junagadh, Gujarat, India, on Wednesday. Amit Dave/Reuters
India's Supreme Court said on Wednesday it will hear a request for an investigation into a $8.7 billion fighter jet deal with France's Dassault Aviation , in a setback for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government.
As India heads into a general election on Thursday, the court agreed to examine new evidence published by newspapers after it rejected the petitions last December. The published material was privileged defence documents, the government says.
"Preliminary objections of the Centre are dismissed," said the court, led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, referring to the federal government, adding that it would set a date for further hearings.
Modi, facing a tightening election, has vehemently denied opposition allegations of wrongdoing in the purchase of 36 Rafale planes and the government had asked the court to reject the petitions, citing national security.
The arms deal has been an election issue with Modi's chief rival, Rahul Gandhi, saying it exposed the claims of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government's assertions of running a clean administration.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Wednesday's decision was not a setback for the government and the court had only agreed to consider new evidence.
"We are very sure that the review petition in the light of these facts would not be considered," he said, adding it would probably be dismissed.
Two former ministers of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and an activist lawyer seeking the investigation argued that the deal's escalating price should be investigated after documents relating to some aspects were published by the Hindu newspaper.
The government told the court national security was at stake and the leak of the documents infringed the Official Secrets Act, a law dating to the colonial era.
A spokesman for Congress, Sanjay Jha, said, "The attempt by the Modi government to stonewall the Rafale scam probe has been scuttled by the Supreme Court."
The second phase of voting to the lower house of Indian Parliament did not reflect an overwhelming response though important states were involved.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s assets have grown from Rs 9.4 crore in 2014 to over Rs 15.8 crore presently.
India went on high security alert Wednesday ahead of the start of its marathon election, after a campaign dominated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership that has focused on keeping the country safe from attack.
In the fourth phase, the BJP will be defending 45 of the seats it won in the 2014 Lok Sabha battle — 13 in Rajasthan, 12 in Uttar Pradesh, eight in Maharashtra, five in Madhya Pradesh, three in Bihar, three in Jharkhand and one in West Bengal.
His Highness Sheikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ajman, on Sunday, visited Thumbay Medicity, in the Emirate, and the newly opened Thumbay University Hospital, the latest academic hospital in the region. He was received by founder president of Thumbay Group Dr. Thumbay Moideen and vice-president of Thumbay Group Healthcare Division Akbar Moideen Thumbay.
The UAE has stepped up measures and shall continually seek ways to keep any fraud at bay and not seep into sectors and industries.
The Sharjah Criminal Court has adjourned a case in which five Asians were charged with killing another by hitting him with a sharp tool.
Tenants of Duja Tower, which caught fire on Thursday, began moving back to their respective apartments on Saturday evening after Nasser Lootah Real Estate, the management company of the Tower, opened all apartments deemed habitable by the Dubai Civil Defence, within 36 hours.