Seeking registration of an FIR into the Rafale fighter jet deal, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie along with lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court.
The trio has sought a direction to the CBI to investigate the offences mentioned in their complaint in a "time-bound" manner and submit periodic status reports to the Supreme Court. They had filed their complaint with the CBI on October 4 after Shourie and Bhushan met CBI director Alok Verma.
The petition comes on a day when Verma and CBI's Special Director Rakesh Asthana were stripped of their powers and sent on leave in a dramatic overnight action by the government after their worsening feud sparked a serious crisis in the country's premier probe agency. According to reports, the government was not happy with Verma for meeting Shourie and Bhushan.
The petition by the trio came two weeks after the Supreme Court had on October 10 asked the Centre to provide details of the decision- making process in the Rafale deal with France in a sealed cover by October 29. It had clarified that it does not want information on pricing and technical particulars. The court's order had come on two PILs filed by advocates M L Sharma and Vineet Dhanda.
India inked a deal with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets in a fly-away condition as part of the upgrading process of the Indian Air Force equipment. The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation. The Indian Air Force had advanced a proposal to buy 126 fighter aircraft in August 2007 and floated a tender. Following this, an invitation was sent to various aviation companies to participate in the bidding process.
"The Prime Minister, on his own, overturned a deal for 126 aircraft which was going through in accordance with the procedure and unilaterally took a decision to buy 36 aircraft in a ready-to-use condition, without any transfer of technology. And thereafter we find that the price has been increased to more than double, in order to give offset contracts worth Rs.20,000 crore to Anil Ambani," Bhushan alleged.
"That is not only a criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act, it is a straightforward (case of) corruption because this Rs. 20,000 crore being given to Anil Ambani under the offset contract is not any legal remuneration for work expected to be done. It is clearly in the nature of a commission," he added.
The Modi government has denied any wrongdoing in the Rafale deal.
Sinha alleged the Modi government's attempts to avoid an inquiry into the Rafale deal was behind the ongoing row in the CBI. He also alleged that government of destroying the credibility of the investigating agency. The former BJP leader said the Centre's decision to remove agency Verma was "illegal" and Modi had no authority to do so.
He also alleged that the government could go to any extent to "destroy" the country's institutions in order to protect itself from any inquiry.
(With PTI inputs)