The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed all the petitions seeking an investigation into alleged irregularities in the ₹58,000-crore Rafale deal. It said there is no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France.
The verdict was a source of relief to the ruling party, which has been accused of corruption by the Opposition over the defence deal.
“Truth always holds together...falsehood is bound to fall apart,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said at a press conference here on Friday that he held with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Dubbing the allegations as a ‘fiction writing’ that compromised national security, Jaitely said: “Falsehood has a very short life. In this case, it was a few months. Falsehood lowers the credibility of its creator.”
If honest deals are questioned, civil servants and armed forces will think twice before undertaking such a process in future, he said, adding: “The Rafale deal has protected both the security and commercial interest of India.”
Asked about the various figures quoted by Congress President Rahul Gandhi alleging corruption in the purchase of the fighter jets, the Minister said those figures are false, and those provided by the government are correct.
“Truth has only one version and falsehood has many. That is why Rahul Gandhi quoted several figures,” he said.
The government would again press for a debate on this issue in Parliament, Jaitley said. He added that there is a tradition in democracies worldwide of leaders quitting their positions when their lies are caught. The apex verdict is conclusive and leaves no scope for doubt, he said.
Three areas of probe
Sitharaman said the apex court has gone through each of the three broader areas — the decision-making process, pricing and offsets — and clearly dismissed all the petitions.
“The UPA government didn’t conclude any aircraft deal for 10 years. To make up for lost time, we added two squadrons to ensure and maintain readiness,” she added.
BJP President Amit Shah said the verdict is a ‘slap on Rahul Gandhi’s face’. “An attempt was made to mislead people using lies. Rahul Gandhi should apologise to the nation and the Army. He has put the national security at risk,” he said. “All thieves had gathered to call the chowkidar a thief, but the country never believed it.”
The Congress, however, maintained its position that Rafale is a corruption issue involving Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Reliance Defence chief Anil Ambani.
It’s wrong: Congress
The party said the “foundation” of the Supreme Court judgment was based on wrong information that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had submitted in a report on the deal. The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament had examined the report.
“I don’t know if Modi has created his own PAC in the PMO,” quipped Rahul.
He demanded that the Centre show the CAG report to the Opposition. “I am not able to understand why there’s such a glaring problem in the foundation of the Supreme Court’s verdict,” he said.
PAC Chairman Mallikarjun Kharge added that even the CAG does not have any information on this. “I even doubted that someone might have forged my signature. But there is no such report before either the CAG or the PAC. From where did this report appear? The PAC has been dragged into this matter,” he said.