New Delhi: Expressing shock and disappointment at the Rafale verdict, former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan said the verdict had “neither addressed the documented facts nor dealt with their main prayer seeking an investigation into the deal to purchase the French fighter jets”.
“Rather, some of the facts mentioned in the court judgment are not only not on record but are patently incorrect,” Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan said in a statement. Pointing out that no report by the CAG on the Rafale deal had been submitted or examined, they said the judgment was “shocking” as it was based on completely false information about the CAG report. It was “disappointing” as the court has taken a “conservative view of judicial review in cases of defence deal corruption involving high functionaries”.
While the court in its verdict said that the “pricing details have been shared with the CAG, and the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)”, the petitioners claimed that “no portion of the CAG report has been placed before Parliament or placed in public domain”. “That the court has relied on such communication which is factually incorrect on 3 counts shows how dangerous it is for the court to rely on statements made in a sealed cover (not subject to scrutiny or verification) and give its judgment on that basis,” they said.
“The court has also mentioned that the chief of the Indian Air Force had communicated his reservation regarding the disclosure of the pricing details which would adversely affect national security. This alleged fact was also not on record and it is not understood as to where and how the court got this,” the former union ministers asked. The petitioners also expressed shock over the court “condoning the total disregard” of procedures in purchase of the 36 Rafale jets.
“Were this to become the norm for subsequent judicial examination, wrong doers in control of governments would have a carte blanche. They could do what they want – as the Prime Minister (Modi) did in this instance – and then have it retrospectively rubber stamped by DAC,” the petitioners said.
Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan, who have been campaigning against the Rafale deal alleging “gross irregularities” and “personal culpability of Modi”, said the Supreme Court judgment was not a “clean chit” to the Modi government. “Since the court has not examined nor said that it was examining the facts in detail, and has dismissed the petition only on the basis of its perception of its own jurisdiction under article 32 of the Constitution, this judgment can by no means be considered to be a clean chit to the government on this deal.