Don’t politicise national security matters, Rajnath to Oppn

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said that the Supreme Court verdict on the review petitions over Rafale procurement is also a judgement on the government’s transparency in decision-making and asserted that the issues pertaining to defence preparedness and national security should never be politicised.

“The purchase of Rafale jets was done in a completely transparent manner, keeping in mind the urgency to update and upgrade India’s defence preparedness,” he said.

The Defence Minister further stated that the allegations made by certain political parties and their leaders in Rafale jet purchase were “extremely unfortunate, unwarranted and laced with malicious intent”. “The verdict has rightly cautioned such politicians to be careful while making wild allegations,” he said, in a hint on then Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s campaign on Rafale deal.

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“The allegation of corruption in Rafale deal was nothing but an attempt to malign the clean and honest image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government.”

Lashing out Congress and opposition parties, the minister asserted that the Indian citizens will not forgive the opponents for their slanderous campaign and calumny and they should apologise for misleading the people.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) also issued a statement citing that the Supreme Court has categorically rejected the review petitions filed subsequently against the order on merits “bringing to a close an exercise of vilification and casting doubts on the defence acquisition process which has an adverse impact on the morale of the security forces”.

The top Court had given a clear verdict on December 14, 2018 on the petition seeking an inquiry into the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft. The SC, in its judgment, dated on Thursday has categorically stated that the review petitions are without any merit and are dismissed.

Dismissing the review petitions, the court has observed that it does appear that the endeavour of the petitioners is to construe themselves as an Appellate Authority to determine each aspect of the contract and call upon the court to do the same, the ministry said.

The Court, while upholding the decision-making process, has held that all aspects were considered by the competent authority and the different views expressed considered and dealt with.

“It would well nigh become impossible for different opinions to be set out in the record if each opinion was to be construed as to be complied with before the contract was entered into. It would defeat the very purpose of debate in the decision-making process,” the court observed.

SC has further elaborated that “there were undoubtedly opinions expressed in the course of the decision-making process, which may be different from the decision taken, but then any decision-making process envisages debates and expert opinion and the final call is with the competent authority, which so exercised it”.

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