Strange are the ways of the Supreme Court. It first admitted a batch of petitions praying for a court-monitored probe in the Rafale deal. It then declared that it would examine if it had jurisdiction to examine a sensitive defence purchase deal. Thereafter it called officials of the Indian Air Force to the court to brief it on defence preparedness of the Indian Air Force. And, finally it concluded that
This has been interpreted by the BJP and the Government as a ‘clean chit’ by the apex court. But surely the court could have asked for a time-bound inquiry by the CBI or the CAG to answer the following questions:
The apex court is not only silent on these questions, it makes no mention of the new deal cutting off Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd in favour of a private sector company with no history or experience in aviation or avionics.
While the court has stopped short of declaring that it found no evidence of illegality, irrationality or procedural impropriety, the order is unlikely to silence the clamour for a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee.
Meanwhile, the order received mixed reactions with BJP president Amit Shah demanding an apology from the Congress President and the Congress reiterating its charges and demanding a JPC into the deal.
In a tweet, defence analyst Ajai Shukla described the judgment as a ‘flawed’ one.
“Respite for the BJP, three days after its election debacle. Today the Supreme Court — in a thoroughly flawed judgment — dismissed petitions seeking a CBI inquiry into the Rafale deal. Instead, three judges with no tech or military knowledge, cleared deal on all counts”
Journalist and columnist Nikhil Wagle wondered why the BJP was opposed to a JPC. “If Modi and BJP is so sure about #RafaelDeal, why don’t they agree on JPC investigation? Let people know everything,” he tweeted: