New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday demanded an apology from Rahul Gandhi, accusing him of trying to mislead public over Rafale fighter jets deal for political benefit. His statement came a few hours after the Supreme Court dismissed all the petitions seeking a court-monitored investigation into the deal. Giving a clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, the apex court said that it did not find any material to show commercial favouritism.
Speaking in Lok Sabha during Winter Session proceedings, Singh said, “Congress President tried to mislead public for political benefit, and maligned Indian image globally, he should apologise to the house and to the people of the country. He thought ‘Hum to doobe hain sanam tum ko bhi le doobenge’.”
Meanwhile, Reliance chairman Anil Ambani, whose name has now and then cropped up in debates over Rafale deal, said, “Welcome judgement of Honourable Supreme Court today summarily dismissing PILs filed on Rafale contracts, and conclusively establishing complete falsity of wild, baseless and politically motivated allegations levelled against Reliance Group and me personally.”
The Congress, however, continued the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe saying JPC has the right to summon all documents. “There is no reason for PM and BJP Govt to celebrate Supreme Court order which in itself is contradictory. Honourable SC has said it won’t be proper for it to go into details. Supreme Court has not commented on many important aspects,” party leader Anand Sharma said.
Randeep Surjewala, the spokesperson of Congress, said, “The verdict of the Supreme Court today is a validation of what the Congress party stated months again, that SC is not the forum to decide the such sensitive defence contract. 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.Only forum&only media is a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) which can probe the entire corruption in the deal.”
Earlier in the day, a Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said there had been a necessity of fighter aircraft and the country cannot remain without fighter jets. “We are satisfied that there is no occasion to doubt the process. A country can’t afford to be under-prepared. It is not correct for the court to sit as an appellant authority and scrutinise all aspects,” it said.
On the choice of an offset partner, Gogoi said, “There is no reason for interference in the choice of offset partner and the perception of individuals can’t be the basis for a roving inquiry in a sensitive issue of defence procurement.”
“We can’t compel the Government to purchase 126 aircraft and it’s not proper for the court to examine each aspect of this case. It isn’t a job of the court to compare pricing details,” he added vindicating the government stand.
The four petitions seeking probe into the deal were filed by Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie, former Finance minister Yashwant Sinha, advocates ML Sharma and Vineet Dhanda, and AAP MP Sanjay Singh. All the petitioners had assailed the pricing of 36 fighter aircraft and the induction of an offset partner replacing the HAL.