On Thursday, the Supreme Court of India dismissed the review petitions against the December 14th judgement of the SC which declined to order a probe into the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets by the Modi government from Dassault Aviation.
The Supreme Court bench had held that the review petitions filed by Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha lacked merits. With Supreme Court ruling to not order a probe on the so-called irregularities in the Rafale deal, a major embarrassment has struck Congress party and its leader Rahul Gandhi.
However, the Congress party seems to be in no mood to accept the Supreme Court judgement as it has now unleashed a fresh wave of attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, stating the Supreme Court order has “paved way for a comprehensive criminal probe” in the Rafale deal.
Speaking to the media after the apex court passed the judgement, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala stated that Supreme Court judgment is not a clean chit, but paves way for a full investigation on the issue.
Supreme Court judgment in the Review today has paved way for comprehensive criminal investigation into Rafale Scam
As usual, BJP Govt is misleading the Nation on impact of judgment
Supreme Court judgment is not a Clean Chit, but paves way for full investigation
Our Statement: pic.twitter.com/uPtuYxec92
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) November 14, 2019
“BJP is in habit of celebrating without going into details of verdict. The Supreme Court order has paved the way for a probe into the Rafale deal. The verdict has opened a window for a detailed enquiry into the matter, it has said that 14 Dec 2018 or today’s verdict is not an obstacle in way of the CBI from taking action in the case in future,” Randeep Surjewala said at a press conference.
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who is on a lying spree to target Prime Minister Modi over the issue of Rafale deal, took to Twitter to launch his tirade against the Modi government.
In a tweet, Rahul Gandhi stated that the Supreme Court’s Justice KM Joseph has left open a “huge door” for an investigation into the Rafale deal and demanded that a probe must begin in full earnest. He also called for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the fighter jet contract.
Justice Joseph of the Supreme Court has opened a huge door into investigation of the RAFALE scam.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) November 14, 2019
However, in doing so, Congress party including Rahul Gandhi resorted to their usual propaganda and the peddling half-truths when they claimed that the statements made by Justice Joseph left a huge door to investigation in the Rafale deal.
Contrary to the claims of Congress party, the Supreme Court has actually passed a unanimous judgement on the Rafale issue, observing that the Court has elaborately discussed all the issues to find that there is no need to register FIR.
Justice KM Joseph wrote a “separate but concurring judgment” stating that scope of judicial review on such matters is very limited making the judgement on the review petition unanimous.
The ‘separate opinion’ written Justice KM Joseph, as mentioned by the Congress party, states that the dismissal did not preclude the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from looking into any complaints received. However, the opinion is seen as a technical observation for certainty in the event that the verdict is seen as a bar on investigations of any kind.
Citing Justice Joseph’s remarks, Rahul Gandhi attempted to mislead the public on the issue of future investigation on the issue of Rafale deal. According to lawyer Nikhil Mehra, Rahul Gandhi has made a ‘pitiable interpretation’ of a crystal clear order of the top court.
According to Mehra, the Supreme Court of India, for the purposes of the CrPC exercised their magisterial powers. In exercising such powers the Court held that they see no fit case for registration of an FIR under Section 156(3). Under Section 156(3) of CrPC, a magistrate has the power to order an investigation into a matter.
What is S. 156(3)? That is the power of the Magistrate to order an investigation. Now supposing a Magistrate dismisses an application u/s 156(3). Can an investigating officer nonetheless take up an investigation on the complaint based on material before him? Short answer, yes.
— Nikhil Mehra (@TweetinderKaul) November 14, 2019
An investigation officer can take up an investigation on any such issues even if the magistrate has dismissed an application for an investigation under Section 156(3). However, the investigation has to take a prior sanction under Section 17(A) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, which has been clearly stated by Justice Joseph’s order.
Hence, the question of the Supreme Court allowing or not allowing to investigate further on the ‘irregularities’ in the Rafale deal does not arise as there is no bar for any such future investigation even though SC has clarified that there are no irregularities in the multi-crore jet deal.
In this case the concerned IO would also have to take prior sanction u/S 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act (look it up). So this paragraph only clarifies a) your review has failed so we aren’t ordering an investigation and b) as per law, an IO still has an obvious power.
— Nikhil Mehra (@TweetinderKaul) November 14, 2019
So according to Mehra, Justice Joseph’s order clarifies two things. One, the review petition filed by the petitioners has failed to prove any irregularities prima facie in the Rafale deal and hence they are not ordering an investigation pertaining to Rafale deal. Secondly, the order states that an investigation can be still launched but prior permission is needed to do so.