A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph pronounced verdicts on three review petitions
Rafale aircraft—the first of 36 ordered by India- was handed over to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on 8 October
NEW DELHI :
In a major political setback for the Congress and its former president, Rahul Gandhi, the Supreme Court on Thursday not only dismissed the review petition in the Rafale case but also censured Gandhi for wrongly attributing his remark “Chowkidar chor hai" to the apex court.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has demanded an apology from Gandhi and his party, alleging there was a deliberate attempt to malign the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union government.
“Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss the review petition on Rafale is a befitting reply to those leaders and parties who rely on malicious and baseless campaigns. The decision reaffirms Modi sarkar’s credentials as a govt which is transparent and corruption free," tweeted home minister Amit Shah.
The three-judge bench was presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprised Justices S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph. The bench stated there was no merit in the review petition and that no probe was required in the purchase deal. The petitioners had alleged irregularities in the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault Aviation.
In a unanimous verdict, the bench concluded that it was not appropriate to order a roving inquiry into the allegations. The petition was dismissed on the grounds that it is not within the purview of judicial review.
Delving into the merit of dismissal, the three-judge bench said, “We cannot lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with a contract for aircraft, which was pending before different governments for quite some time and the necessity for those aircraft has never been in dispute."
However, Gandhi continued to describe the aircraft deal as a scam and demanded the setting up of a joint parliamentary committee. “Justice Joseph of the Supreme Court has opened a huge door into investigation of the Rafale scam. An investigation must now begin in full earnest. A Joint Parliamentary Committee must also be set up to probe this scam," Gandhi tweeted.
Justice Joseph suggested that the main verdict would not impact any independent inquiry into the allegations of corruption on the Rafale deal and subject to taking approval under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act.