In a big relief to the Modi government today, the Supreme Court ruled out an investigation into the deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets worth Rs 58,000 crore.
The government has come under fire from the opposition Congress and other parties for allegation of corruption over the pricing details of the Rafale deal. Opposition parties had raised the issue of corruption in Rafale deal on a war footing in the recently held state elections of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Telangana.
The apex court said there was no reason to doubt the decision-making process in the multi-billion dollar Rafale deal. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said there has been a necessity of fighter aircraft and the country cannot remain without these jets.
The CJI, who read out the judgement for the three-judge bench, said no reasons were found to interfere in the procurement process for the fighter jets.
The top court said it is not the job of the court to deal with the comparative details of the pricing.Also read: Will raise Rafale, RBI autonomy issue in Parliament: Azad
In a scathing criticism of the campaign carried out to malign the Narendra Modi government, the apex court said, "Mere press interviews cannot form the basis of judicial review specially when there is a categorical denial by the government. Perception of individuals cannot be the basis of roving inquiry by the court."
"We cannot sit on judgement of the govt of purchasing the number of aircraft; detailed scrutiny of Rafale Deal is not required," the court added.
The apex court said scrutiny into the deal has to be made in the light of national security.The chief justice said there were three broad areas of concern-pricing, process and offset partner.
"We have studied the material extensively. We are satisfied that there is no occasion to doubt the process," the court said.
The extent of permissible of judicial review with respect to contracts relating to defence procurements have to be decided on a fact-to-fact basis, the court said.
A SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said there has been a necessity of fighter aircraft and the country cannot remain without fighter jets.
Multiple pleas seeking court-monitored probe into the multi-billion dollar Rafale fighter jet deal with France were filed in the Supreme Court.
Earlier, the bench had reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas on November 14. Advocate ML Sharma was the first petitioner in the case. Later, another lawyer Vineet Dhanda had moved the apex court with the plea for court-monitored probe into the deal.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh had also filed a petition against the fighter jet deal. After the three petitions were filed, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie alongwith activist advocate Prashant Bhushan had moved the apex court with a plea for a direction to the CBI to register FIR for alleged irregularities in the deal.
Edited by Aseem Thapliyal