Petitioners say Supreme Court has taken ‘dangerous step in condoning total disregard of procedures’.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court’s dismissal of a plea seeking an independent court-monitored investigation into the Rafale fighter jet deal was shocking and disappointing, former Union ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha and advocate Prashant Bhushan said Friday.
The three were among the petitioners who had moved the apex court seeking probe into alleged irregularities in the deal.
Since the courts did not examine the material placed before them by the petitioners, the judgment can by no means be considered to be the SC’s clean chit to the deal, they argued.
“The court overlooks the fact that we were not seeking any enquiry by the court, but only an independent investigation by the CBI or SIT,” they added.
The apex court Friday threw its weight behind the decision-making process of India’s deal with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft, dismissing all the petitions filed against it. Observing that the “country can’t afford to be unprepared in matters of fighter aircraft”, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi added, “We can’t go into wisdom of purchasing 36 in place of over 100 aircraft under the last [UPA] deal… Don’t even need to go into pricing.”
‘Several incorrect facts in judgment’
The trio suggested that there was no procedure while procuring the aircraft and the Prime Minister unilaterally announced a new deal, with the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) simply rubber-stamping these with retrospective effect.
“The court takes a dangerous step in condoning the total disregard of procedures,” a statement released by the three said.
They disputed several facts mentioned in the judgment and claimed that they were neither on record nor factually correct. They observed that the judgment “does not even address the documented facts stated in our petition or even deal with our main prayer seeking an investigation”.
While the apex court said the pricing details have been shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and its report has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the petitioners said the report was not submitted to the PAC and no portion was placed before Parliament or in the public domain. The Supreme Court had said “only a redacted portion of the report was placed before the Parliament and is in public domain”.
The trio expressed astonishment “that the court has stated such a patently incorrect fact in its short judgment”.
Slamming the judgement, they said: “(It) is in line with earlier judgments… where we have seen that courts have stopped short of ordering independent investigations in matters involving corruption in high places or even given judgments seeking to put a lid on those cases. The issue will continue to agitate the public mind until there is full public disclosure of all the facts and a comprehensive and independent investigation into the deal.”
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