New Delhi: Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court seeking the registration of an FIR into the Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France, alleging “criminal misconduct” by high public functionaries.
They also sought a direction to the CBI to investigate the offences mentioned in their complaint in a “time-bound” manner and asked that periodic status reports be submitted to the apex court.
Sinha, Shourie and I file a petition in SC for a court monitored CBI investigation into Rafale deal. There is enormous pressure on the CBI not to embark upon any Investigation on our complaint. That’s perhaps another reason for replacing the CBI directorhttps://t.co/1Gn3lJUkMO
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) October 24, 2018
The complaint was filed on October 4 with the CBI after their meeting with CBI director Alok Kumar Verma, who was late Tuesday night directed by the Centre to proceed on leave in the wake of feud with his second-in-command in the agency Rakesh Asthana.
The petition by the trio came two weeks after the apex court had on October 10 asked the Centre to provide details of the decision making process in the Rafale deal with France in a sealed cover by October 29.
It had clarified that it does not want information on pricing and technical particulars. The court’s order had come on two PILs filed by advocates M.L. Sharma and Vineet Dhanda.
According to LiveLaw, the petition alleges that in the Rafale deal, there is prima facie evidence of commission of cognizable offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act by public servants occupying the highest of public offices in the country.
“The petitioners state that their complaint filed before CBI on October 4 reveal commission of congnizable offences under PC Act, and the CBI was bound to register FIR and carry out investigation as per the dictum of Constitution Bench in Lalitha Kumari case. Even no preliminary enquiry has been initiated till date, laments the petition,” the report reads.
The development also comes on the heels of the trio’s persistent campaign against the aircraft deal over the past few months. In press conferences and writings, the three have alleged that the Modi government violated several clauses of the defence procurement procedures to unilaterally announce the inter-governmental contract with France to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets in April 2015.
They have accused the Union government of nullifying the ongoing process to purchase 126 aircraft from Dassault Aviation, the French company which manufactures Rafale jets, in order to divert the offset benefits worth Rs 30,000 crore to Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Defence Limited (RDL) – an accusation that even the Congress party has been making.
In their older complaint to the CBI, the three had submitted a chronological list of events to allege that “Modi asked Dassault to give the major offset contracts in this deal to Anil Ambani’s defence company as a condition for getting the contract” – in their effort to prove that the prime minister abused his authority in the Rafale deal.
(With inputs from PTI)