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Rafale deal in order, rules Supreme Court; Parliament disrupted

12/14/2018

New Delhi, The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed six petitions seeking a Special Investigation Team probe into the Rafale deal, which had alleged irregularities and large scale corruption. The pleas were filed by lawyers, Manohar Lal Sharma, Vineet Dhanda, former Union Minister, Arun Shourie, ex-Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Yashwant Sinha and Aam Aadmi Party MP, Sanjay Singh. "We are dismissing all the petitions. We are also not inclined for a SIT probe in the case," ruled the three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. "We find no reason for any intervention by this court on the issue of purchase of 36 fighter aircraft by the Indian government. We also did not find any wrong in selection of Indian offset partner by Dassault, the French company,' the apex court ruled. "Perception of individuals cannot be the basis of a fishing and roving enquiry by this court, especially in such matters. We thus dismiss all the writ petitions," the bench ruled. Also comprising Justices KM Jospeh and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, the bench said in their 29-page verdict, that once again, it is neither appropriate nor within the experience of this court to step into this arena of what is technically feasible. Due process followed The Supreme Court said, 'We have studied the material carefully. We have also had the benefit of interacting with senior Air Force Officers who answered Court queries in respect of different aspects, including that of the acquisition process and pricing. "We are satisfied that there is no occasion to really doubt the process, and even if minor deviations have occurred, that would not result in either setting aside the contract or requiring a detailed scrutiny by the court," the Supreme Court held. 'The due process have been followed. The need for the aircrafts is not in doubt. The quality of the aircraft is not in question,' the apex court ruled. "Our country cannot afford to be unprepared or underprepared in a situation where our adversaries are stated to have acquired not only fourth, but even fifth generation aircrafts, of which, we have none." 'Truth always triumphs', said Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah, welcoming the court ruling. Parliament rocked The issue disrupted Parliament.As uproar arose in the Council of States, BJP members insisted on an apology from Indian National Congress president Rahul Gandhi for 'misleading the nation' and for raking up the issue 'only for electoral gains.' Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh led the charge and demanded that Mr Gandhi tender an apology to the House of the People.'They have misled the country and also presented India in poor light across the globe. That is why I want to emphasise that the Congress president should tender an apology to the House and the nation,' Mr Singh said making a brief intervention amid uproarious scenes and slogan shouting which disrupted the two Chambers. The Congress contended that the verdict was not a setback. It is ' a validation of what the party stated months ago, that the Supreme Court is not the forum to decide such a sensitive defence contract'. It renewed its demand for a Joint Parliamentary committee probe into the deal. Talking to reporters here, AICC media incharge Randeep Surjewala said ,'Article 136 and 32 are not the forum to decide the issue, the pricing, the process, the sovereign guarantee and the corruption in the Rafale contract. The only forum and medium is a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) which can probe the entire corruption in Rafale deal.' The government had questioned the court's expertise to review the Rs. 59,000-crore deal for 36 planes with French firm Dassault.Congress had accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government of corruption and crony capitalism. It had alleged that the National Democratic Alliance-led Centre scrapped a deal for 126 Rafale jets negotiated by the previous United Progressive Alliance government and entered into an expensive new contract just to help Anil Ambani's defence company bag an offset partnership with the jet manufacturer.

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