In a fresh twist to the controversy over procurement of Rafale jets, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has denied the existence of a report that was cited by the Supreme Court in its order stating that no investigation was needed in the controversial defence deal.
The Supreme Court, in its 29-page order had said that the pricing details of the fighter aircraft had been shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), and the report of the CAG has been further examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The court stated that "only a redacted portion of this report was placed before the Parliament, and is in public domain."
Kharge, however, denied claims that any such report was given to the House panel. The Congress leader, who is also the chief of PAC, said that he has not seen any such CAG report and termed the court's observation "strange" and "untrue".
"When the CAG does not have the report, how will it come before the PAC. Who gave the report, where is the report? Where did the report come from?" he wondered, alleging that "this is far from the truth".
Kharge alleged that the government has lied in Supreme Court that the CAG report was presented in the House and in PAC, and that the PAC has probed it. "The government said in Supreme Court that the report is in public domain. Where is it? Have you seen it?" Kharge asked
The PAC chief further asked all Committee employees to call on the Attorney General as well as the CAG chief, and ask them when this report was submitted. "We should ask them when the report was submitted, when it was accepted, and when it was investigated by the PAC," Kharge told reporters on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the PAC reported cited in the order does not seem to be the only anomaly in the 29-page order. CNN-News18 has pointed out some other glaring inaccuracies in the order, including an instance where the Reliance described as the 'parent company' of Anil Ambani's firm.
"It is no doubt true that the company, Reliance Aerostructure Ltd., has come into being in the recent past, but the press release suggests that there was possibly an arrangement between the parent Reliance company and Dassault starting from the year 2012," the ruling reads.
Dazzling factual errors in the #SupremeCourt judgment:
* Air Force officials were never asked about acquisition process & pricing
* There's no #CAG or #PAC report
* No statement in Court on Chief of Air Staff
* Reliance described as the 'parent company' of Anil Ambani's firm pic.twitter.com/2OIGWbF9pT
— Utkarsh Anand (@utkarsh_aanand) December 14, 2018
Kharge's allegations come after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi maintained that corruption had taken place in the contract despite the Supreme Court ruling stating that a probe was not needed. Rahul asserted that the basis of the court judgement is the CAG report that has neither been seen by anyone, nor shared with the PAC.
Rahul, while addressing a press conference at the Congress headquarters, along with party's top leaders, also trained his guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he cannot escape action and only two names of Modi and businessman Anil Ambani will come out whenever a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe is conducted into the deal.
Rahul used the barb of "chowkidaar chor hai" (the watchman is a thief) against the prime minister, alleging that "massive corruption" has taken place in the defence contract and that Rs 30,000 crore of farmers have gone to Anil Ambani's Reliance group. Both the government and Anil Ambani's Reliance Group have rejected Rahul's allegations of wrongdoing in the defence deal.
Rahul said he failed to understand that the basic foundation of the Supreme Court judgement is the report that "no one has seen" and asked the government to show it to them and the PAC chairman. "I am seriously not able to understand. You are laughing, but I'm not able to understand this. When one speaks a lie somewhere it comes out.
"The government has to make us understand, where is the CAG report. Please show it to us, to the PAC chairman. Or is it with some other PAC that Modi has set up in the PMO or some other Parliament in another country, like France? It is possible in today's world under Modi ji," Rahul asked in a dig at the government.
He also accused the Modi government of destroying "all institutions" and asserted that corruption has taken place in the Rafale deal under its watch. "While the Election Commission says something, the Supreme Court says something else and the judges come out and say some other things," he said.
"There is a theft of Rs 30,000 crore and it is farmers' money... This money is taken by them, everybody in the country knows and understands.
"The chowkidaar has done a theft and we will prove it...People of India know that Prime Minister Modi is a friend of Anil Ambani...The people of India know the truth and they understand the truth.
"Modi ji can run as much he wants, but no one can save him from being caught. The moment there is a probe by the JPC only two names of Anil Ambani and Narendra Modi will come out," he said.
In a relief to the Modi government, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the pleas challenging the deal between India and France for procurement of 36 Rafale jets saying there was no occasion to "really doubt the decision making process" warranting setting aside of the contract.
The apex court rejected the pleas which sought lodging of an FIR and a court-monitored probe alleging irregularities in the Rs 58,000 crore deal, in which both the countries have entered into an inter-governmental agreement (IGA). It also said that material placed before it shows that Centre did not disclosed pricing details in Parliament about the Rafale fighter jet procured through IGA but had shared with Comptroller and Auditor General. It said that CAG report was even examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament.
"The material placed before us shows that the Government has not disclosed pricing details, other than the basic price of the aircraft, even to Parliament, on the ground that sensitivity of pricing details could affect national security, apart from breaching the agreement between the two countries," a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph said.
"Only a redacted portion of the report was placed before the Parliament," the bench said in its verdict.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Dec 15, 2018 11:42:12 IST