A day after the Supreme Court dismissed the review petition filed by public interest lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha on the central government's defence deal with the French company Rafale, the petitioners said that the judgment would further pave the way for investigation in the case by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
In a joint press conference held in Delhi on Friday, the petitioners said that the apex court has negated the false perception created by the BJP and the government that in view of its earlier judgement, no investigation by the CBI was possible into the comprehensive complaint made by them on October 4, 2018 to the CBI.
The petitioners had asked the CBI to seek the necessary approval from the government to initiate an inquiry against Rafale deal under the Prevention of Corruption Act. "We are aware that this will place you in the peculiar situation of having to ask the accused himself, for permission to investigate a case against him. We realise that your hands are tied in this matter, but we request you to at least take the first step, of seeking permission of the government under Section 17(A) of the Prevention of Corruption Act for investigating this offence," the petition to CBI had said.
"It has been more than a year since the complaint was submitted to the then Director of C.B.I., Alok Verma. Accordingly, we expect Rishi Kumar Shukla, his successor, to seek the necessary approval from the competent authority under Section 17A to begin the necessary inquiry into the complaint in earnest in conformity with the Judgement of the Hon'ble Court," the petitioners pointed out.
The original complaint of the petitioners had accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using his official position to fast track the Rafale deal and sought an investigation under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The petitioners said, " We were compelled to move court because the CBI, obviously under government pressure did not register an FIR on our complaint and as the Supreme Court asked the government to submit details of the 'decision-making process' in a sealed cover on two other bogus petitions which ideally ought to have been dismissed at the outset.
During the course of the proceedings the government submitted additional information on 'offsets' as well as 'pricing' to the Court in 'sealed covers' which were not even signed by anyone and nor were even supported by an Affidavit -a fundamental rule for receiving evidence. This was not even given to the petitioners and violated all settled rules of 'natural justice'. We had in fact during the course of proceedings pointed out that the redacted notes on 'decision making process' and 'offsets' supplied to us were misleading."
It was a petition to review this judgment of the court, which has been dismissed now. "We thank the Supreme Court for clearing the way for the CBI to seek approval of the government under Section 17 A for proceeding in that direction. As aforementioned, we expect the office of Sh. Rishi Kumar Shukla, Director, CBI, to seek the necessary approval in conformity with the Judgement of the Hon'ble Court."