The Supreme Court of India on Friday ruled that there was no reason to doubt the decision-making process behind the Rafale jet deal, giving a clean-cheat to the Narendra Modi government which has been consistently accused of corruption by Congress party.
The apex court rejected a probe and dismissed petitions alleging that the government had gone for an overpriced deal to help Anil Ambani’s company bag an offset contract with jet-maker Dassault.
“There is no evidence of commercial favouritism to any private entity,” the Supreme Court stated on Friday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sought Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s apology in the matter.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said: “Disrupters have lost on all counts and those who manufactured falsehood compromised the security of the country.”
Jaitley rejected the Congress demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the deal.
In a statement, Anil Ambani, whose company is an offset partner for Dassault, said the ruling “conclusively established the complete falsity of wild, baseless and politically motivated allegations”.
Meanwhile, hours after the Supreme Court’s clean chit to the Modi government on the Rafale deal, the Congress president questioned the basis of the court’s decision and declared: “Chowkidar chor hai! PM Modi you can hide and run, you won’t be saved. The day there is an inquiry it will come out… Narendra Modi, Anil Ambani.”
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed four petitions seeking court-monitored probe into the purchase of 36 Rafale jet fighters in ready to fly conditions holding that the decision making process was not in doubt.
The apex court said it cannot go into the question of pricing and choice of offset Indian partner by the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault.
A Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Krishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph, while referring to their interaction with senior air force officers and the material placed before it, said: “We are satisfied there is no occasion to doubt the decision-making process.”
Stating that the perception of individuals cannot be the basis of interfering with the deal, Gogoi pronouncing the judgment said the deal was inked on September 23, 2016 but nothing was called into question till former French President Francois Hollande in an interview alleged pressures from Indian government on the choice of offset partner.
Observing that India can’t afford to be unprepared in the skies, the court said that the need for the aircraft, and the quality of the aircraft was not in doubt, and “We can’t sit on the wisdom…”.
Saying that it can’t go into each aspect of the process of acquisition of the aircrafts, the court said that the earlier deal was taking long and was not concluding.
On the choice of offset Indian partner, the court said that the role of Indian government cannot be envisaged as it was entirely for the vendor Dassault to make a choice.
The apex court said that there was no evidence of commercial favouratism by the government.
The Centre had earlier defended the deal while admitting that there was “no sovereign guarantee from France, but there is a letter of comfort…”
Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie, former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, advocates M.L. Sharma and Vineet Dhanda, and Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker in Parliament Sanjay Singh had filed the petitions seeking the probe.