In a major relief for the Narendra Modi-led government, the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a review petition seeking a court-monitored criminal probe in Rafale fighter jet deal between the Indian government and France’s Dassault Aviation.
The three-judge bench of the top court comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph dismissed the review pleas in a unanimous judgment.
“We cannot lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with a contract. This court did not consider it appropriate to conduct a roving inquiry in an Article 32 petition,” said SC in its ruling.
“We don’t feel necessary to order FIR or roving inquiry into Rafale deal case,” the top court added.
The development comes as a huge relief for the Modi government, which received a lot of flak over the deal after some leaked documents related to the deal surfaced earlier.
While the top court had earlier rejected pleas seeking court-monitored investigation into the controversial Rafale deal in December last year, it again initiated hearing a review petition in February this year.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan and former Union minister Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie filed review pleas in February 2019, demanding the court to reverse its verdict and initiate a probe into the dealings to acquire the 36 Rafale fighter jets.
Citing leaked documents related to the case, the petitioners claimed the court’s judgment was based on “incorrect claims” made by the government. They went on to say that the government “willfully and deliberately” misled the court regarding details of the Rafale deal.
The petitioners in the case had moved the top court seeking review of its verdict, which earlier dismissed a plea challenging India’s agreement with France for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.
In December, the top court had denied a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the corruption allegations in the deal.
The Rafale deal pertains to a government-to-government agreement signed between India and France to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from the French aerospace giant Dassault. The deal was signed by PM Narendra Modi during his first term in office.
The deal became controversial over allegations that the Modi government had bypassed established norms of acquisition to sign the deal and that industrialist Anil Ambani received undue favours under the deal.
In December, the Supreme Court said it had not seen any evidence that could raise doubts over the government’s decision-making process and so, it ruled to dismiss the pleas seeking a court-monitored probe into the deal.