Supreme Court refuses to entertain PIL seeking investigation into Rafale deal based on French agency reports

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to uphold a PIL requesting an investigation into the Rafale deal in light of certain articles from a French news portal alleging Dassault Aviation paid a bribe to an intermediary Indian.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India UU Lalit and Justice S Ravindra Bhat reviewed the PIL filed by lawyer M. L. Sharma, which made Narendra Modi the first personal defendant. The bench initially denied the petition saying that no case of Supreme Court interference was established by the petitioner. After the order was dictated, Sharma made another request asking permission to withdraw the petition. Granting the subsequent request, the bench varied the order and dismissed the motion as withdrawn.

When the case came up, Sharma said he was limiting the case to certain facts that emerged from the investigation by a French agency. He asked for instructions for the issuance of rough letters by Indian agencies to summon the documents from France. He pointed out that he had lodged a complaint with the CBI.

However, the bench expressed reluctance to interfere. “Either you withdraw this or we reject. We will not say anything about the CBI,” said CJI Lalit.

Sharma continued the arguments and the bench adopted the following order after hearing it.

“After considering the facts and circumstances, in our view, no case is established to exercise the jurisdiction of this court under s. Petition dismissed.”

After some time, Sharma mentioned the matter again asking for permission to step down. The bench allowed it and dismissed the motion as withdrawn.

“I can go to CBI,” Sharma said.

“No one is stopping you,” replied CJI Lalit.

In his petition , Sharma asks for instructions to cancel the agreement for the purchase of 36 combat aircraft from the French company Dassault Aviation as “result of corruption and violation of Articles 13, 21 and 253 of the Indian Constitution”.

Sharma further prayed for an investigation to be conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after the filing of an FIR against Respondents Nos. 1 and 2, which includes current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, under of the PC Act of 1988, read with Sections 409, 420, and 120-B of the IPC and Section 3 of the Official Secrecy Act of 1923. He requested that the report be filed with the Supreme Court.

The plea is the result of an investigative report by the French anti-corruption agency, the Agence Française Anticorruption (AGA), in which it was stated that Dassault had paid a bribe of 1 million euros to intermediaries in India.

“Due to political pressure, the proceedings against the AFA report have been stayed/suspended. This is a serious offense under the Secret Act of 1923, which damages the finances and defense of the country. C ‘is a violation of Articles 21 and 13 of the Constitution of India’,

presents the plea and requests that the investigation report be filed with the Court.

Sharma had filed a writ petition in 2018 seeking an investigation into the Rafale deal, which was denied in December 2018.

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