New Delhi: Raising question over Supreme Court’s verdict on Rafale deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that he did not agree with the “basic foundation” of the apex court’s judgement. “How can it be possible that the foundation of SC judgement saying that pricing has been discussed in CAG report. PAC chairman (Mallikarjun Kharge) is sitting here, how come he never saw it. No one in PAC ever saw it. But Supreme Court saw it,” asked Gandhi, hours after the Supreme Court junked four petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the Rafale deal.
He also asked Narendra Modi-led government to explain the CAG report on Rafale fighter jet deal and show it to PAC chairman Mallikarjun Kharge. “Govt will have to explain to us where is the CAG report. Show it to PAC chairman Kharge ji. Maybe a different PAC is running parallelly, maybe in a different Parliament, maybe in Parliament of France. It’s possible Modi ji has constituted his own PAC in PMO,” said the Congress president.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had dismissed all the petitions seeking a court-monitored investigation into the Rafale deal. The apex court had said that the pricing details of the aircraft was provided to the CAG and the CAG report had been examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Referring to their interaction with senior air force officers and the material placed before it, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Krishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph said: “We are satisfied there is no occasion to doubt the decision-making process.”
Saying that the perception of individuals cannot be the basis of interfering with the deal, Gogoi pronouncing the judgment said that 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.” The petitions seeking the probe were filed by 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.