Rahul Gandhi, cleared of contempt after his apology for attributing his phrase "Chowkidar Chor Hai" to the Supreme Court, said today that the top court's decision on the Rafale case had "opened a huge door to an investigation" into his allegations of corruption in the deal for 36 fighter jets from France. Undeterred by the BJP's attacks on him after the court rejected calls for an investigation, the Congress leader called for an all-party parliamentary inquiry into what he called the "Rafale scam".
The Supreme Court this morning refused to review its earlier decision giving a clean chit to the government in the Rafale deal and ruled: "We don't feel it necessary to order an FIR (First Information Report) or a roving inquiry into the case."
The bench comprising outgoing Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph confirmed the December 14 order that there was no reason to doubt the decision-making process behind the jet deal. The order was seen as vindication by the BJP government, which was repeatedly accused by the Congress of corruption in the Rs. 59,000-crore contract.
"Justice Joseph of the Supreme Court has opened a huge door into investigation of the RAFALE scam. An investigation must now begin in full earnest. A Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) must also be set up to probe this scam," Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
He posted the tweet with underlined excerpts from the order of Justice Joseph's views.
The Chief Justice and Justice SK Kaul said there was no need to direct the CBI to file a First Information Report into the Rafale deal, that "it is not the duty of the court to determine the price of Rafale deal on the basis of mere suspicion of petitioners."
Justice Joseph, in a separate judgement, agreed with the Chief Justice and Justice Kaul but said, "Petitioners can approach the CBI for registering an FIR provided the CBI gets nod from the government as per the Prevention of Corruption Law."
The Congress saw this as confirmation that the court had left the option of a CBI probe open and said the BJP was "misleading the public" by suggesting it had been cleared of all wrongdoing.
"The BJP should stop its celebration and focus on investigation as the court decision has paved the way for a probe into the Rafale deal," said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, adding, "How will you save your masters now from the investigation, BJP?"
Rahul Gandhi quit as Congress president after the party was pulverized in the national election; his "Chowkidar Chor Hai" campaign targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale deal failed to translate into votes for the Congress. The campaign revolved around the allegation that PM Modi had signed off on an overpriced deal to facilitate an offset contract for Anil Ambani's inexperienced defence company. The government has rubbished the allegations.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP said today's verdict was the third defeat for Rahul Gandhi, apart from the first Supreme Court verdict and the election debacle.