The Supreme Court
dismissed all petitions calling for an investigation into the purchase of Rafale warplanes by the government and said that processes were broadly followed by the government while signing a multi-billion dollar deal with France’ France’s Dassault Aviation.
The verdict provides a huge relief for the Narendra Modi government, which was facing uneasy questions on the deal, and delivers a big blow to the plans of the opposition parties to make the deal an issue in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.
The court said on Friday that while there could be minor deviations, a detailed scrutiny into the deal was not required and added that there was no evidence to suggest that the government favoured certain private parties. "We don't find any material to show it is commercial favouritism," Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.
The court said it has examined the decision-making process, pricing and the induction of billionaire Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence as the offset partner of Dassault.
As soon as the verdict was announced, BJP members stood up in Lok Sabha, raising slogans against Congress and Rahul Gandhi and demanded apology from the Congress party chief.
Here are the first reactions on the verdict:
Anil Ambani, chairman, Reliance Group, said, "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."
While BJP chief Amit Shah said that the judgment "exposes the campaign of misinformation spearheaded by Congress president for political gains. The court didn’t find anything wrong with the process nor did it find any commercial favouritism in the deal."
Welcoming the judgement, law minister Ravi Shankar urged that all campaigns against the Rafale deal must end now as the country's strategic interest is more important.
"...I would only urge one thing that all campaigns against Rafale must end now because the country's strategic interest is more important," Prasad said on the sidelines of an event organised by industry body CII, adding that “the entire deal was completely fair, transparent and honest”.
However, Prashant Bhushan, one of the petitioners, said that "the campaign will not be dropped". "We believe this judgment is totally wrong... without even ordering an investigation, the court has ordered dropping of the case," he said.A tweet posted on the official Twitter handle of Congress reads, "The Supreme Court has clearly stated that it is outside their jurisdiction to probe into the
# . We continue our demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee to investigate the ." RafaleDeal