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Modi govt's 'boat of corruption' will no longer sail: Cong on Rafale deal

PTI New Delhi
Updated: 31-10-2018 20:39 IST

The Congress Wednesday said the Supreme Court's directives to the Centre over the Rafale issue has sought to pierce the "veil of secrecy" that the government is trying to "hide" behind, and asked why it was scared to reveal the details of the fighter jet deal.

The opposition party also slammed the Modi government, saying its "boat of corruption" will no longer sail.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari reiterated the party's demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the Rafale deal.

"All the files relating to the Rafale transaction must be handed over to the Joint Parliamentary Committee so that all the facts transparently come out in the public domain," he said.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to place before it in a sealed cover within 10 days the pricing details of 36 Rafale fighter jets India is buying from France.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also said that the details, including the steps in the decision-making process for the procurement of jets, which could "legitimately" be brought into public domain, be made available to the parties who have filed petitions before it in the matter.

Tewari, during a press conference, claimed that the Supreme Court's "interim orders" vindicated the stand which his party and various other "progressive and patriotic forces" have taken.

Tewari described as "extremely significant" the court's observation that the core information, conveyed to it by the Centre in a confidential report, which can legitimately be brought into the public domain, be made available to the parties who have filed petitions.

"This is an extremely significant observation because the government has been repeatedly trying to hide behind a self-created cloak of secrecy and the Supreme Court with this interim direction has sought to pierce the veil of that secrecy by saying that whatever has been submitted or whatever the government claims to be confidential, in fact, can very well be put out in the public domain," he said.

Tewari said the second significant observation which the court made was that the details with regard to the Indian offset partner need to be provided to the counsels for the petitioners and all those petitioners appearing in person.

"We have expressed very, very severe reservations as to why and how HAL was virtually kicked out at the last moment in order to make way for a private entity called Reliance Defence," he said.

He said on pricing also the court made an extremely critical observation.

"You can't merely claim confidentiality by saying that something is confidential. You need to file an affidavit explaining as to why are you claiming confidentiality with regard to the price of the aircraft," the Congress spokesperson said.

He said that the Congress would like to ask the government why it was "running scared" over disclosing the details of the Rafale deal.

"What are you trying to hide? Why can't you make the price of the Rafale transaction public, when in the past every transaction entered into by the government of India with foreign or a domestic entity has not only been revealed to Parliament, but also transparently put in the public space," he said.

Earlier, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters: "The Modi government's boat of corruption will no longer sail because the Supreme Court wants to know the truth of Rafale. The corruption-loaded BJP government can no longer remain investigation free, the accused can no longer run away from a JPC (joint parliamentary committee)."

"Dear PM, please explain to the 'court of people', why are you now shying away from JPC investigation? Rafale scam is now fully ripe for an investigation-no more excuses!" Surjewala added in a tweet.

Tewari said there were 18 articles in the Indo-French agreement on protection of classified information and material in the field of defence and asked the Modi government to "enlighten the nation" as to which out of these are they specifically relying upon to claim confidentiality with regard to pricing.

The Congress has been alleging massive irregularities in the Rafale deal, saying the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government when it was negotiating a deal for procurement of 126 Rafale fighter jets.

The Congress has also been targeting the government over selection of Reliance Defence as an offset partner of Dassault.

The government has vehemently rejected the allegations and asserted that it did not have any role in the selection of Reliance Defence.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)