The Supreme Court of India has dismissed a petition in its decision on a high-level probe into alleged corruption in the intergovernmental deal between India and France to purchase 36 fully loaded Rafale fighter jets.
The decision came as a relief to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government against whom corruption charges were levelled by the opposition Congress Party.
The review petitions against the court’s judgement in December last year were filed by former federal ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan. The judgement had dismissed petitions calling for an investigation into the Rafale deal.
"We do not consider the submissions for the registration of FIR to be fair," held the court.
In September 2016, India signed a deal with French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation to acquire 36 Rafale fighter aircraft worth over 7.8 billion euros. The original contract signed in 2014 was for 126 jets, 108 of which were to be made in India by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
After the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was voted to power in May 2014, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had revised the deal to reduce the number of jets to 36 fully loaded aircraft, down from the original 126 and changing Rafale’s Indian manufacturing partner from HAL to a private entity.
The opposition Congress Party had alleged, the Modi government had bought the jets at an inflated price.
The top court also dismissed the case of former Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi, against whom contempt proceedings were initiated in relation to the Rafale case. The contempt petition was filed by a BJP lawmaker for calling Prime Minister Modi “Chowkidar Chor Hai” meaning ‘janitor is thief’. The court closed the proceedings after Rahul Gandhi tendered an apology.
New Delhi already received the first batch of four jets in July, with the rest to be delivered to India by May 2020. These jets come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems, among others.