On October 31, the Supreme Court sought some more information from the union government about the Rafale deal responding petitions filed against the deal. The Court has clubbed recently filed petitions by Prashant Bhushan and Arun Shourie with petitions that were already filed in the matter.
The court has asked the government to submit information regarding the deal to the court in a sealed envelope, and also said that non-confidential information should be given to petitioners.
The opposition is celebrating this order as some sort of big blow for the government, implying that this will ‘expose’ the scam in the deal. While the opposition and left-wing activists are celebrating this ‘victory’, the fact is actually different. This is not a defeat for the government, and this is not going to reveal which is already not known.
BJP Govt’s ‘boat of corruption’ will no longer ‘sail’,
Supreme Court orders will expose the ‘truth of Rafale’
Pls explain to the ‘court of people’, why are you now shying away from JPC investigation?
Rafale Scam is now fully ripe for an investigation-no more excuses! https://t.co/k50dsPxKKU
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) October 31, 2018
Blow for govt on Rafale. Supreme Court hears Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Prashant Bhushan petition and orders govt to reveal details of the govt’s decision making on buying 36 Rafales, its cost, and selection of offset partner. Secrets must be certified as such on affidavit.
— Ajai Shukla (@ajaishukla) October 31, 2018
— Shama Mohamed (@drshamamohd) October 31, 2018
Bang !!! #SupremeCourt leapfrog..now asks the Govt to give details on pricing and strategic details of #Rafale deal. It is just about the decision making process anymore. Top court gets into the intricacies of the #Rafale deal. https://t.co/kCwKhYhYWr
— Utkarsh Anand (@utkarsh_aanand) October 31, 2018
This what the order of the 3 judge bench of the Supreme Court says actually:
While it is true that during the hearing the court had asked for the price and other technical details to be submitted at the court, it was immediately protested by Attorney General K K Venugopal, saying that these details are covered under the Official Secrets Act and they can’t be revealed. He informed that court that such information was not given to the parliament also. Responding to this, the court asked the government to file an affidavit stating that confidential information can’t be revealed.
The court has ordered the government provide the petitioners only those details which are not strategic in nature and can be made public, and asked the strategic information to submit in a sealed cover to the court.
This means, whatever information government will give to the petitioners, are already known in the public domain. In its earlier order, the court had asked the government to submit how the decision to purchase 36 Rafale jets was taken, and the government has already submitted that information in a sealed cover.
The court has asked the government to inform how the offset partners for the Rafale deal were selected. This is actually a victory for the government, not a loss. The government of India, apart from Dassault Aviation and the French government has been insisting that Reliance was chosen as an offset partner by Dassault on its own, and there was no pressure on them to do so.
Various spokespersons of the government are saying this on a regular basis, Dassault CEO himself asserted this multiple time, but the activists and opposition including Rahul Gandhi are ignoring those clarifications. Now, union government will mention in an affidavit submitted to the highest court of law that Dassault selected their offset patterners on their own. The government will also cite the relevant portions of the offset clause. These facts will form part of a Supreme Court documents, and to refute this, the opposition will have to bring credible proof.
Now, what is the proof that the deal was done to benefit Anil Ambani? The only proof that Rahul Gandhi has is that Anil Ambani accompanied Narendra Modi to Paris when the deal was first announced. That may be good enough proof for speeches and rhetoric, but unfortunately not good enough in a court. Dozens of other industrials were also part of that business delegation, and such delegations are a routine part of visits by heads of governments/states. No crime can be proved by such things.
Therefore, the petitioners are not going to get any new information that is already not in the public domain. The confidential information that does not come under the secrecy law will be submitted to the court in a sealed cover, and that will not include the price and technical details. And most important, the government will assert in its affidavit that it didn’t have anything to do with Reliance being chosen as an offset partner.
The petitioners also asked for a CBI investigation into the deal, but the court refused that. The court said they want to know the facts about the deal first before issuing any notice. So it is not sure why the opposition is celebrating the court order.