A three-judge bench of Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed all petitions seeking review of its last year's verdict giving clean chit to the Modi government in the purchase of 36 fully loaded Rafale fighter jets through an inter-government deal with France.
Noting that the price of the basic Rafale jet was marginally cheaper than the one considered by the previous UPA government, the bench dismissed the allegation that the government was responsible for the inclusion of Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as an offset partner. The bench said that the offset partner was chosen by the French manufacturer Dassault Aviation.
Rahul Gandhi and the Congress spokesperson on Thursday, however, quoted a portion of Justice K. M. Joseph's verdict and claimed that the door for ordering an inquiry was still open. The fact remains that the apex court has outrightly rejected all review petitions, particularly those filed by Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, who had levelled personal charges against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
During this year's Lok Sabha general elections, Rahul Gandhi had persistently used these allegations to attack Modi in his poll campaign and went to the extent of threatening to put the Prime Minister behind bars once the elections were over. When the Supreme Court gave its original verdict on December 14 last year giving a clean chit to the government, the petitioners filed review petitions challenging the judgement. All these petitions were dismissed on Thursday.
On the whole, these baseless allegations have shown India in a poor light and have affected the nation's capability for negotiating major defence deals. The apex court verdict on Thursday has restored the credibility and honest image of Modi government, and, in turn, has raised questions over the credibility and sincerity of Rahul Gandhi.
In a related verdict on Thursday, the apex court chided Rahul Gandhi for making false statements during the poll campaign that the Supreme Court had endorsed his 'Chowkidar Chor Hai' jibe at Modi in the context of Rafale deal. The court said, "Certainly (Rahul) Gandhi needs to be more careful in future". The apex court, however, dropped contempt proceedings against him by accepting his belated unconditional apology.
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