The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed all petitions seeking an investigation into the Rafale fighter jets deal between India and France. Dismissing the pleas, the top court bench, comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, ruled that there were no irregularities in the fighter jets deal, even as it observed that the judgement cannot be based on “perception”.
Announcing the verdict, the apex court said that it was satisfied that the procurement has been complied with. “The extent of permissible of judicial review with respect to contracts relating to defence procurements have to be decided on fact to fact basis,” said the bench.
Observing that the court could not sit in judgement over decision to go in for purchase of 36 aircraft instead of 126, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said, “We can’t compel government to purchase 126 aircrafts and it is not proper for the court to examine each aspect of this case. It isn’t a job of court to compare pricing details.”
Though the court said that it was not its job to get into the pricing detail, it added that the “earlier deal was not forthcoming”.
On the issue of offset partner, the Supreme Court says that it is upto the ventor and not the central government to decide on the same. According to Bar & Bench, the top court added, “It is not the job of this court to go into it.”
“There is no reason for interference in the choice of offset partner and perception of individuals can’t be the basis for roving inquiry in sensitive issue of defence procurement,” said CJI Gogoi.
Following the judgement, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that the verdict made it clear that there was no need of any Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Rafale deal.
“The matter was crystal clear from the beginning and we have been saying that the allegations leveled by Congress were baseless and to gain political mileage,” said the Home Minister.
Union minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ravi Shankar Prasad also lauded the judgement, adding that there must not be any further campaign against the fighter jets deal.
“The entire deal was completely transparent and honest. I would only urge that all campaign against Rafale must end now because strategic interest is more important,” said Prasad.
Reacting to the verdict, Anil Ambani of Reliance Group also released a statement welcoming the decision.
The statement read, “I welcome the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court today, summarily dismissing all PILs filed on the Rafale contracts and conclusively establishing the complete falsity of the wild, baseless and politically-motivated allegations levelled against Reliance Group and me personally. We remain committed to India’s national security and to making our humble contribution towards the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India’ policies of the Government in the critical area of defence, including our offset partnership agreement with our valued partner, Dassault Aviation of France.”