NEW DELHI :
In a major embarrassment for the Congress party and its former president Rahul Gandhi, the Supreme Court on Thursday not only dismissed the review petition in the Rafale deal but issued a word of caution for Gandhi for wrongly attributing his remark ‘chowkidar chor hai’ to the apex court.
The Congress party had tried making a major issue of alleged corruption in the Rafale deal during the 2019 Lok Sabha election, and based on this, an electoral campaign was also launched by the party in the assembly elections of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in December 2018.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who was leading the charge for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after the verdict, demanded that Gandhi should apologise for his allegations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the alleged corruption case.
“I wholeheartedly welcome the Supreme Court’s categorical dismissal of the review petitions in the Rafale case and with this pronouncement the NDA government stands vindicated. The SC verdict is also a judgement on our government’s transparency in decision making. The purchase of Rafale jets was done in a completely transparent manner, keeping in mind the urgency to update and upgrade India’s defence preparedness. The issues pertaining to defence preparedness and national security should never be politicised," said Singh following the verdict on micro-blogging website Twitter.
The apex court today dismissed the review petitions against its verdict in the Rafale deal on grounds that they lacked merit, reiterating its clean chit to the Modi government in the fighter jet agreement with French firm Dassault Aviation. In another verdict, the apex court closed the contempt plea against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for wrongly attributing to the apex court his "chowkidar chor hai" remark against Modi in connection with the Rafale case.
The court said the remarks made by Gandhi were far from true and he should have refrained from those and should have been careful.
“It is unfortunate that without any verification certain remarks were made by the contemnor (Rahul Gandhi) against the prime minister," a bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said.
Singh said there was a deliberate attempt to malign the image of Modi and the government, which was unfortunate, unwarranted and of malicious intent.
“The allegation of corruption in Rafale deal was nothing but an attempt to malign the clean and honest image of PM Modi and his government. The people of India will not forgive the Congress for their slanderous campaign and calumny. The Congress should apologise for misleading the people. The allegations made by certain political parties and their leaders in Rafale jet purchase were extremely unfortunate, unwarranted and laced with malicious intent. The verdict has rightly cautioned such politicians to be careful while making wild allegations," Singh said on Twitter.
The verdict of the SC in the two cases could impact the Congress in the upcoming assembly elections in Jharkhand and Delhi, where the Congress would be up against arch-rival BJP. The immediate problem for Congress is that the winter session of the Parliament is scheduled to start on 18 November.