Is SC’s ruling on leaked documents on Rafale a ‘big’ set back to govt?

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the government’s stand that the court shouldn’t admit the leaked documents, cited in the petition for a review of SC’s earlier judgement on Rafale deal. Instead, the SC ruled that the petition would be decided on merit of the case.

Soon, television channels started running tickers, such as “big setback to Modi government on Rafale” in large letters. A few channels even started speculating on the impact of SC’s decision on the first phase of polling on Thursday. Are these media outlets wanted to project the decision as the final verdict on the review petition?

No doubt “Rafale deal” is a sensitive issue. Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been long trying hard to mount corruption charges against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He even coined “Chowkidar Chor Hai” to paint Modi as corrupt.

Against this backdrop, the SC on December 14, 2018 had dismissed the petitions by activist advocate Prashant Bhushan, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie seeking a court-monitored investigation into the deal to acquire 36 French fighter jets, Rafale.  The SC ruled that it didn’t find any lapse in the decision making process. It also said it examined the pricing part just to satisfy its (judges’) conscience.

Subsequently, a series of articles appeared in The Hindu revealing the internal process of procurement and pricing details, alleging procedural lapses and inflated costs. Based on these articles, Prashant Bhushan and others filed a review petition in the SC on its Dec 14 judgement.

The government, however, had argued that the review petition is not maintainable as it was based on “stolen” documents that were covered under the Official Secrets Act. The SC on Wednesday dismissed this argument. Now the case will be heard on merit. But is it right to interpret it as a big setback to Modi government? Look, how Rahul Gandhi has reacted to the ruling.

“The Supreme Court has made it clear that Chowkidar ne chori karvai hai, (the watchman has committed the theft),” Rahul Gandhi told the reporters in Amethi, when asked for his response. This is unbelievable!

Incidentally, the Rafale files have already been scrutinized by the Controller Auditor General of India and no red flag has been raised over corruption or procedural lapses. Then, why should anyone start celebrating over “the big setback” yet?

(Image credit: India Today)

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