- Supreme Court rejected probe into Rafale deal,
- Supreme Court "had not looked at all the points": top Congress sources
- Rahul Gandhi alleges corruption by government to favour Anil Ambani
As the government demanded Rahul Gandhi's apology today after the Supreme Court rejected a probe into the Rafale jet deal saying it found "no substantial evidence of any commercial favouritism," the Congress leadership said that the court ruling is "not a setback at all".
The Congress said the party would keep up its demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate the deal, adding that it was the only forum to look into alleged corruption.
"The verdict of the Supreme Court is a validation of what the Congress party stated months ago that the Supreme Court is not the forum to decide such sensitive defence contracts," party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
Alleging that the government gave a "one-sided, half-baked information to the Supreme Court which has not been scrutinised by anyone", the Congress leader said, "If they have nothing to hide, I challenge Modi ji and his government to submit to a JPC probe which will question and go into the corruption in the defence deal"..
The Rs 59,000-crore deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale jets from French firm Dassault headlined Congress President Rahul Gandhi's campaign during the recent state elections, in which the party won three big BJP-ruled states - Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
The Congress president alleges huge corruption by the government to favour industrialist Anil Ambani, who, he maintains, scored an offset deal with Dassault despite the inexperience of his defence company. The Congress alleges that the centre scrapped a deal for 126 Rafale jets negotiated by the previous UPA government and entered an expensive new contract just to help Anil Ambani.
Without naming Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi repeatedly used the phrase "Chowkidaar chor hai" at his rallies.
Mr Gandhi's allegations are centred on the offset deal, in which Dassault has to invest half the value of the contract - about Rs 30,000 crore - in Indian firms. Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence was chosen as one of those "offset" partners and is to manufacture plane parts - though not for the 36 jets ordered by India.
The top court said there was "no substantial evidence of commercial favouritism to any private entity", demolishing the Congress and opposition arguments.
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also said "perception by individuals cannot be the subject of roving inquiry" by the court.
Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal.