The CBI must register an FIR in the Rafale deal, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former BJP leader Arun Shourie said on Friday, 15 November, a day after the Supreme Court gave the government a clean chit in the fighter-jet agreement.
The Supreme Court on Thursday, 14 November rejected pleas, including one by Bhushan, Shourie and former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, for a review of its judgement that gave a clean chit to the Modi government on the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.
It also said there is no ground to order an FIR by the CBI or a roving inquiry into allegations of irregularities in the controversial deal.
Bhushan said it is binding on the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe their complaint despite the ruling by the three-judge apex court bench. If the CBI fails to do so, it will again approach the Supreme Court, Bhushan told reporters at a press conference also addressed by Shourie. Sinha was not there.
To buttress his point, Bhushan referred to the judgment of Justice K M Joseph, one of the three judges of the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that gave the verdict.
In his separate but concurring judgement on Wednesday, 13 November Joseph said the CBI, the country’s premier probe agency, is expected to act “completely independent” of the government of the day and professionalism of “highest quality”, uncompromising independence and neutrality is expected of it.
"The CBI has to seek the permission of the government for probing the case and it has three months to do so," Bhushan said.
If the CBI does not do so, it has to cite reasons for not probing the case.
In October last year, Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan had moved the Supreme Court, seeking registration of an FIR into Rafale fighter jet deal.
In its December 14, 2018 verdict, the top court had said that there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.
In January, the three moved the apex court seeking review of its December 14 judgement.