Union Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday called the Congress’ demand for an inquiry into the Rafale deal by a Joint Parliamentary Committee “political grandstanding”.
“A politically divided JPC is looking into a matter already looked into by the SC [Supreme Court],” ANI quoted Sitharaman saying at a press conference. “A Bofors JPC [Joint Parliamentary Committee] ended up converting kickbacks into winding up charges. So to ask for JPC is for Congress’ political grandstanding rather than genuinely knowing, post court’s verdict.”
“The Congress is knowingly misleading people on the pricing of the Rafale jets,” Sitharaman said, according to PTI.
The Supreme Court had last week rejected all petitions seeking an inquiry into India’s procurement of Rafale fighter jets from France. The court said it was satisfied that the process for procurement had been complied with. The Congress, however, has questioned the basis of the judgement and accused the government of misleading the court. It has renewed calls for a Joint Parliamentary Committee inquiry into the agreement with France.
On Sunday, Sitharaman’s party colleague Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had called the demand for an inquiry by a parliamentary panel misconceived. “Is a committee of politicians both legally and in terms of human resources capable of reviewing issues already decided by the Supreme Court?”
Nirmala Sitharaman said the details on the price of aircraft have been submitted to the Comptroller and Auditor General. Reiterating Jaitley’s statement, she said the CAG’s report will be referred to the Public Accounts Committee. “The PAC [Public Accounts Committee] will have a look at it and then it will become a public document,” she said, adding that the process has commenced.
Sitharaman said the Centre has provided all data and information in the affidavit submitted to the court. “We think there’s an interpretation problem, we would like you [court] to look at it and correct it,” she said. “That’s our appeal to the court, we’ll wait for them to take the call.”
The Centre had submitted a plea before the Supreme Court to make a correction in two sentences of the judgement after the Congress said the judgement cited a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India that did not exist.