The Supreme Court rejected pleas for a review of its judgment that gave a clean chit to the Modi government on the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France and said there is no ground to order an FIR by the CBI or a roving inquiry into allegations of irregularities in the controversial deal.
But a separate and concurring verdict by Justice K M Joseph that the unanimous judgment 'would not stand in the way' of the CBI from taking action on the complaint for lodging of an FIR prompted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to say the judge has left open a 'huge door' for investigation. The three-judge bench was headed by former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
As the verdict set off a political slugfest between the BJP and the Congress, Union Home Minister Amit Shah welcomed the judgment as 'victory of truth' and demanded an apology from Gandhi. Shah asserted that the decision is a befitting reply to those leaders and parties who rely on 'malicious and baseless campaigns' while BJP working president J P Nadda said Gandhi tried to 'mislead the nation from road to Parliament'. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned if Gandhi raised the issue at the behest of French company Dassault Aviation's rivals.
Gandhi demanded a criminal probe as well as an inquiry by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the £5.8 billion deal while Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala claimed the judgment is not a clean chit by the apex court. 'Rather than indulging in celebrations, BJP government should agree to a JPC investigation,'Surjewala said.
The top court while refusing to re-examine the aspects of pricing, decision making process and selection of the offset partner in the deal for purchase of 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation said the review applications cannot be entertained unless there is an 'error apparent on the face of the record'.