New Delhi: Finding fault with the Supreme Court ruling on the Rafale deal, the CPI-M has said that “accepting notes in sealed covers, acceptance of government’s arguments at face value, puts the court’s reputation at risk”.
This is why the Supreme Court judgement by a three-member bench on the Rafale jet deal with France has become controversial “even before the ink on the judgement has dried”, an editorial in the CPI-M journal “People’s Democracy” has said.
It said the scope of judicial review was whether the defence procedures laid down were violated in the Rafale deal and whether the people have a right to know the price of defence deals.
“On both counts, the court has effectively said that it is not their task to do such a review, and accepted it as government’s prerogative to keep the price of Rafale aircraft secret,” the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said.
“The subsequent developments - regarding what was in the sealed cover, in particular the statement in the judgement regarding the price having been examined by the CAG, its report submitted to the PAC and a redacted version placed in Parliament - have provoked justifiable criticism,” it said.
The editorial said: “The controversy over what was submitted in sealed cover and ‘misunderstood’ by the court raises another issue. What else was in the sealed cover? And how much of it has led to the court making up its mind not to interfere?
“If the sealed cover was only about price, how is it that statements regarding CAG, were made in the sealed cover and not in the note submitted to the court and shared with the petitioners? If it had nothing to do with the actual price, why was this part of the argument in a secret note?”
It said the substantive issues before the court were: the Modi government violated procedure by cancelling the open tender to procure 126 Rafale aircraft, and instead got only 36 aircraft through an inter government procurement route; and the Modi-Hollande announcement was made without following the procedure required for an Inter-Government Agreement for procuring defence equipment.
The editorial flayed the choice of a newly formed Indian private defence company as the offset partner, which it called an act of crony capitalism, at the cost of the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
“In the government, a violation of procedures that benefits either a company or a person, and causes a loss to the exchequer, constitutes corruption,” it said.
“This is what the 2G scam under the UPA was all about; and the same goes for the coal-gate scam. That is why it was important for the Supreme Court to examine the procedural violations by the Modi government in the case of the Rafale deal, while examining how the price of the Rafale aircraft was arrived at.
“The court judgement seems to have accepted the government’s contentions at face value, even copy-pasting large parts of government’s submissions in its judgement. Hence the disappointment with the judgement.”(IANS)
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