Hours after the Supreme Court dismissed the review petitions against its verdict in the Rafale deal on grounds that they lacked merit, the Congress on Thursday said the judgment has opened the doors for a comprehensive criminal investigation into the fighter jet deal and reiterated its demand for setting up of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).
The Congress said the BJP is misinterpreting the verdict and celebrating it to mislead the country. It dared the Union government to set up a JPC to probe the deal if it believes there no irregularities were involved.
Former party chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted following the top court’s verdict, “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.”
Quoting various paragraphs of the judgment, the opposition party claimed that the Supreme Court has concluded that it has “limited jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution” to go into the questions of pricing, contractual details, technical specifications and feasibility.
Stating that the Congress has always said that the court is not the appropriate forum to decide such issues, party’s communications department head Randeep Surjewala said, “That is why we never went to the court.” He asserted that the court has, however, made it clear that its judgment would not stand in the way of an investigating agency taking action.
Surjewala said the Congress will not abandon its “chowkidaar chor hain” slogan since the “layers of corruption in the Rafale deal” are yet to be unravelled.
Quoting the concluding paragraph of the verdict, he maintained that the court said the judgment “would not stand in the way of the first respondent, which is the CBI, from taking action on the complaint in accordance with law and subject to first respondent CBI obtaining previous approval under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act.”
He said the Supreme Court has, in paragraph 73 of the judgment, made it clear that the police officer is endowed with wide powers, and that nothing that constricted or limited the court in the judgment applies to an officer who has undertaken an investigation into the commission of a cognizable offence.
Surjewala said the “ball lies at the doorsteps of the Prime Minister” to order independent probe by the CBI and possibly by a JPC “if the BJP has done nothing wrong”.
Taking on the BJP, Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said, “The BJP in its anxiety is indulging in celebration without realising that the judgment has in fact paved the path for a criminal investigation into the entire Rafale scam. So today, the BJP should not celebrate but rather let CBI investigate.”
He said the BJP is working overtime to misinterpret, misconstrue and misapply the verdict to mislead the nation.