Former Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Shourie on Friday claimed that the Supreme Court’s verdict refusing a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the Rafale defence deal between India and France had only served to diminish the judiciary’s credibility, The Indian Express reported.
Shourie, along with former BJP minister Yashwant Sinha and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, on January 2 filed a review petition in the Supreme Court challenging its judgement. The court on December 14 had dismissed a series of public interest litigations seeking an investigation into the deal.
Shourie, at an awards function in Nagpur, was responding to a question asking him if he regretted filing the review petition. “No, no. Why should I regret? In fact, the ruling that came had only diminished judiciary’s credibility,” he said. “The ruling had contents plagiarised from the government note that was submitted to the court. So, we have proved our point.”
Shourie and the petitioners had alleged that the Supreme Court judgement “relied upon patently incorrect claims made by the government in an unsigned note given in a sealed cover” and had made a “substantial error” since a cited report from the Comptroller and Auditor General does not yet exist.
Shourie’s remarks came on the day when The Hindu published a report claiming that the Prime Minister’s Office had conducted “parallel negotiations” with France on the deal. While Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Prime Minister’s Office checking up with all the ministries could not be construed as “interference”, opposition parties repeatedly attacked the government.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi said it was “black and white” that Modi had carried out parallel negotiations with France, and accused him and Sitharaman of lying to the country.
Shourie said journalism nowadays has been reduced to seeking opinions from two sides, with journalists becoming “instruments of government propaganda”.
“No effort is made to read and get the facts,” he said. “Like in the Rafale case, all you needed to do is just go to the internet and read the defence procurement policy and offset policy to know the truth. But that is not done.”
Shourie said that journalists were duty-bound to speak truth to power and the people. “A dog with a bone in his mouth can’t bark,” he said. “The question is not what [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi does. The question is what you do. The rulers would always want you to believe in what they, and not what you, believe in.”