Press Trust of india

Cong challenges Modi govt for JPC probe into Rafale jet deal

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New Delhi, Dec 14 :  The Congress claimed Friday the Supreme Court has vindicated its stand that the issue of "corruption" in the Rafale fighter jet agreement cannot be decided by it and challenged the Centre to constitute a JPC to probe the deal.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said his party had said the apex court cannot decide the Rafale issue and the alleged corruption in the defence contract can be brought out only by a Joint Parliamentary Committee. He said the only forum that can probe the deal after examining the pricing process and sovereign guarantee is the JPC.

His statements have come after the Supreme Court earlier Friday said there's no occasion for it to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France. Dismissing all petitions seeking an investigation into alleged irregularities in the Rs 58,000-crore deal, the court said it is not its job to deal with the comparative details of the pricing in the contract.

Following the judgment, BJP chief Amit Shah said the court order "exposes" the campaign of misinformation of the Congress party. He also said his party is ready for a discussion on this issue in Parliament.

Surjewala, however, reiterated the demand for a JPC probe, and said the SC verdict is a "vindication of our stance" on November 15, 2018 that the apex court is not the forum to decide pricing, process and specifications of Rafale.

"If they (the BJP) have nothing to hide, I challenge Modi ji and his government to submit to a JPC probe which will question and go into the corruption in the defence deal," he said.

"We again challenge the prime minister for a JPC probe to unveil every layer of corruption in the deal," he said, alleging that corruption has been "guided by the highest echelons of power".

He also alleged that the Union government gave a "one-sided half-baked information to the Supreme Court which has not been scrutinised by anyone".

The Congress on its Twitter handle said the Supreme Court has clearly stated that it is outside their jurisdiction to probe the Rafale deal. The party also posted a petition on the social media and asked people to digitally sign it "to demand transparency".

"Instead of misquoting the Supreme Court it is the responsibility of the media to report on the judgement in its entirety. This was the concluding statement by the bench on the Rafale deal," it said.

The party said the media and the BJP should read the judgement before spreading "misinformation". "This was not a criminal petition for a 'clean-chit' to be given," it said.

"Three pertinent questions on the #RafaleScam still remain unanswered: If the specification of the Rafale jets are the same as those under the UPA deal, why was there a 300% rise in the price of each aircraft.

"Why did PM Modi push for the inexperienced and debt-ridden Reliance over HAL which has over 70 years of experience in the defence manufacturing sector.

"Why did PM Modi violate the DPP guidelines & influence the vendor to choose Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence," the party asked.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said, "Our demand was for Joint Parliamentary Committee and it still stands, main issue is pricing, which SC said it did not want to comment as it is not in its jurisdiction. The home minister is speaking on an incomplete judgement given on a PIL."

Party leader Anand Sharma said there is no reason for the prime minister and the government to celebrate Supreme Court order which in itself is "contradictory", as some important questions have not been looked into.

"There is no reason for PM and BJP government to celebrate Supreme Court order which in itself is contradictory. Honourable SC has said it won't be proper for it to go into details.

"Supreme Court has not commented on many important aspects. We continue to demand a Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Rafale deal. JPC has the right to summon all documents," he told reporters outside Parliament.

Sharma alleged that the country was denied technology and HAL was eased out.

"It is sad to see that the Supreme Court did not look into these aspects," he said.

The prime minister had made a pre-condition asking the French government that for the 36 Rafale jets purchase, that the partner for the joint venture shall be Reliance Aerospece Defence, Sharma said.

Surjewala said the Congress party rejects "the BJP-sponsored PIL on Rafale scam" which, it said, was instituted to misdirect and derail investigation of the Rafale deal.

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