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Rafale deal: Supreme Court dismisses petitions seeking probe

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Supreme Court today (Friday, Dec 14) threw out all petitions seeking a probe into alleged irregularities in the Rafale aircraft deal between the Indian government and France’s Dassault Aviation.

The deal relates to the purchase of 36 fighter aircraft for an estimated Rs 580 billion.

“There is no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in Rafale deal,” the Court said. Further, the court said the country needs fighter aircraft and that dealing with the pricing details of Rafale fighter jets was not its job.

The court said there won’t be any probe into the pricing or the decision-making process.

Noting that there was a need for induction of fourth- and fifth-generation fighter aircraft like Rafale in the Indian Air Force fleet, the court questioned why nobody protested the procurement of the jets when the deal was finalised in September 2016.

Practically giving a clean chit to the Narendra Modi government in the Rafale deal, the court said: “We find no reasons to interfere in procurement process for 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.”

The court also said that it could not “compel the government to procure 126 or 36 fighter jets” and that it totally depended on the government’s decision.

The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph said, “Our country can’t afford to be unprepared in matters of fighter aircrafts… We can’t go into the into wisdom of purchasing 36 aircrafts in place of over 126 aircrafts under the last deal.”

“We find no reason to intervene in the defence deal”, the CJI said while dismissing the petitions.

On the issue of the offset partner, the Supreme Court said there was no substantial evidence of commercial favouritism done to any private entity.

 

The apex court bench said, “We do not find any substantial material on record to show that this is a case of commercial favouritism to any party by the Indian Govt as the option to choose the IOP (Indian Offset Partner) does not vest with the Indian Government.”

The court, in its 29-page judgment, said: “Perception of individuals cannot be the basis of a fishing and roving enquiry by this Court, especially in such matters.”

The unanimous verdict said the court had also “closely” examined the price details including that of basic aircraft along with escalation costs. It said the government had claimed there was a commercial advantage in the deal for 36 jets and some better terms in deal qua weapons package and maintenance.

The bench added: “It is certainly not the job of this court to carry out a comparison of the pricing details in matters like the present”. The court said it was not saying anything more on the question of pricing as the details had to be kept confidential.

The bench also said, “It will not be correct for the court to sit as an appellate authority to scrutinise each aspect of the process of acquisition.”

On offsets, the court said it was “neither appropriate nor within the experience” of the court “to step into an arena of what is technically feasible”.

At the last hearing, the SC had even summoned senior Indian Air Force officials for the hearing that went on for nearly six hours. The government had submitted details of how it decided to buy 36 fighter jets from French defence manufacturer Dassault at Rs. 59,000 crore, to the top court and petitioners who have asked for an investigation into the deal. The pricing details, which the centre said were classified, were also submitted in a sealed cover to the court.

During the hearing, the government through its top law officer Attorney General KK Venugopal even questioned the court’s competence to judicially review the aircraft deal and said it was for experts to deal with it.

After the bench asked for assistance, senior IAF officials were brought in to answer questions. They told the court that Sukhoi 30s were the latest to be inducted which is a third generation aircraft and added that they do not have fourth or fifth generation aircraft in its fleet. The top court asked if there has been no induction of aircraft since 1985, the officers said “no” At that point, the AG told the court that if “Rafale had been during the Kargil war, we could have avoided huge casualties as the fighter jet is capable of hitting targets from 60 km.

The opposition Congress has been accusing massive irregularities in the deal, alleging that 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.

The main contention of the petitioners was that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the deal in April 2015, without following the Defence Procurement Procedure. It was argued that the negotiations for the deal started after the PM announced the deal and approval of the Cabinet Committee was obtained almost a year after the announcement. The prices of aircraft were highly inflated in the new deal, and offset guidelines were manipulated to accommodate Anil Ambani firm Reliance Defence, which had no experience in the sector.

Four petitions challenging the deal were filed in the apex court – two by lawyers M L Sharma and Vineet Dhanda, one by Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh and the fourth by former union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan.

The court had reserved its verdict in the matter on November 14 after hearing extensive arguments.

Reliance Group Chairman Anil Ambani on Friday welcomed the Supreme Court order on the multi-billion dollar Rafale jet deal, saying it established the falsity of politically motivated allegations against his firm.

“I welcome the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court today summarily dismissing all PILs filed on the Rafale contracts, and conclusively establishing the complete falsity of the wild, baseless and politically motivated allegations levelled against Reliance Group and me personally,” Ambani said in a statement.

An elated BJP launched an attack on the Congress, especially Rahul Gandhi, for making “false allegations” against PM Narendra Modi.

BJP President Amit Shah tweeted: “Truth always triumphs! Court’s judgment on the Rafale deal exposes the campaign of misinformation spearheaded by Congress President for political gains. The court didn’t find anything wrong with the process nor did it find any commercial favouritism in the deal.”

He also questioned the “motive” behind the allegations: “… SC held that govt had no role in selecting offset partners & found no merit in the demand for a probe based on mere perception of individuals. It therefore raises obvious questions on the motive of those working to discredit the deal, which is important for India.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi reveals plan for ambitious 2047 Viksit Bharat project, says work for the project has been ongoing for last 2 years

The Prime Minister said that he does not mean to scare or suppress anyone, but rather has plans to make India a developed nation by 2047.

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A day after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its election manifesto, which aims at building a Viksit Bharat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an interview with the media, outlined his vision for India’s development by 2047. He also addressed concerns raised by the opposition parties, who suggest that the BJP might seek to amend the Constitution if re-elected in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave his assurance to the people that they do not need to fear when he said that he has big plans for the country in his election speeches. Explaining statement, the Prime Minister said that he does not mean to scare or suppress anyone, but rather has plans to make India a developed nation by 2047.

Speaking to the media, PM Modi said, when he says that he has big plans, no one should be scared. He said he does not take decisions to scare or run-over anyone, he takes decisions for the wholesome development of the country. He added the government always says they have done everything.  He said he did not believe that he had done everything. He added he had tried to do everything in the right direction, yet there is so much he needed to do, because he saw that his country has so many needs.

The Prime minister asked how did he fulfill the dreams of every family? He said this is the reason why he said this has been a trailer. PM Modi said he had been working on the ambitious 2047 Viksit Bharat project for the past two years. And for that, he asked for opinions and suggestions from people across India.  He said he had taken suggestions from more than 15 lakh people on how they want to see India in the coming 25 years.

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Kangana Ranaut meets Dalai Lama in Dharamshala shares pictures on social media ahead of Lok Sabha elections, post goes viral

The Bollywood actor met Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama in Himachal Pradesh’s Dharamshala and said it as one of the most memorable moments of her life.

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The Bollywood actor and BJP candidate for the Mandi Lok Sabha seat met Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama in Himachal Pradesh’s Dharamshala on Monday. She said it as one of the most memorable moments of her life. Kangana Ranaut also shared pictures on social media.

The Lok Sabha elections in Himachal Pradesh are scheduled for June 1, marking the seventh phase of elections to elect four members of the 18th Lok Sabha. As the voting day is still over a month away, candidates contesting in the 4 constituencies are actively participating in various campaign activities. Among them, the BJP’s star candidate Kangana Ranaut, who is contesting from Mandi against Congress’s Vikramaditya Singh, is leaving no stone unturned to win the votes of the people.

Kangana Ranaut also shared what Dalai Lama told her during the meeting. She said, his Holiness ji said that he enjoys being in Himachal Pradesh and absolutely loves Bharat. She said this is such a privilege and such an honour. After her meeting with the spiritual leader, the actor told the media that it was divine. She said it was an experience which she will cherish all her life. She thought it is exceptional to be in the presence of such a being who has sheer divinity around him. She said it was very emotional for her and ex-CM Jairam Thakur. She added she will cherish this experience all her life.

Earlier, Kangana Ranaut slammed Himachal Pradesh minister Vikramaditya Singh for calling her the queen of controversies while she was addressing a poll rally in Mandi. She said, Yeh tumhare baap-dada ki riyasat nahin hai, ke tum mujhe dara, dhamka ke vapis bhej doge. She further added this is the new Bharat of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where a small, poor boy who used to sell tea is the biggest hero and pradhan sevak of the people.

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India News

Election Commission records highest inducement seizure of Rs 4,650 crore ahead of Lok Sabha election

The Election Commission of India records highest inducement seizure of Rs 4,650 in 75-years of history.

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The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced on Monday that the upcoming Lok Sabha elections are expected to witness the highest ever seizures of inducements.

According to a notification from the poll board, enforcement agencies had already seized a record Rs 4,650 crore before the first round of polling, which is yet to start. This was a significant increase over the Rs 3,475 crores seized during the entire Lok Sabha election in 2019.

As part of a level playing field, the Election Commission said that the enhanced seizures reflect ECI’s unwavering commitment to monitor inducements and curb electoral malpractices, particularly in favour of smaller and less resourceful parties.

Significantly, narcotics and drugs, which are the Commission’s main focus, account for 45% of the seizures. The poll body continued, the seizures have been made possible by thorough planning, increased cooperation and coordinated deterrent action by agencies, proactive public participation, and optimal use of technology.

The commission also made statistics on the distribution of inducements that were seized available for public consumption by state. With a seizure of over Rs 778 crore, Rajasthan topped the list. Gujarat came in second with Rs 605 crore, and Maharashtra came in third with roughly Rs 431 crore.

When announcing the polls last month, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar highlighted money power as one of the 4M challenges, along with money, muscle, misinformation, and Model Code of Conduct violations.

Use of black money, over and above political financing and accurate disclosure thereof, may disturb the level playing field in favor of a more resourceful party or candidate in specific geographies, the panel stated in its statement released on Monday.

The poll authority claims that the seizures are an essential part of the ECI’s resolve to hold fair elections for the Lok Sabha that are free from electoral malpractices and inducements.

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