New Delhi: Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday, seeking registration of an FIR into the Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France alleging "criminal misconduct" by high public functionaries.
They have sought a direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the offences disclosed in their complaint in a "time-bound" manner and submit periodic status reports to the apex court.
Contending that there was ‘prima facie evidence of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act by public servants occupying the highest of public offices in the country’, they also sought court direction refraining the Modi government from ‘influencing or intimidating’ officials who would investigate the offences.
The petitioners moved the apex court after the CBI ‘under pressure from the govenrment’ did not register an FIR on their complaint.
The trio had filed the complaint on October 4 with CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma, demanding registration of FIR against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for alleged abuse of public office causing undue benefit worth ‘tens of thousands of crores’ to a crony capitalist in the Rafale jet fighter deal.
The petition contends that the intergovernmental deal with France to purchase 36 Rafale jets announced by Modi in April 2015, was in complete violation of all laid-down defence procurement procedures.
The petitioners have also cited French media reports about former France President Francois Hollande as saying that India had proposed the Indian private entity as the partner for the for the deal, to substantiate their charges of the deal being in violation of procedural mandates.
It also states that the French government and Rafale makers Dassault Aviation were told that the deal will materialise only if a private Indian entity was made an offset partner.
The petition also seeks court's direction to ensure that CBI officers who would be probing the case are not transferred and all relevant records are not destroyed or tampered with and are transferred to the CBI.
Sinha Wednesday alleged the Modi government's attempts to avoid an inquiry into the Rafale deal was behind the ongoing turmoil in the CBI.
Charging that the Modi government had "destroyed" the credibility of the CBI, the former BJP leader said the Centre's decision to remove agency director Alok Verma was "illegal" and Prime Minister Modi had no authority to do so.
Alok Verma was late on Tuesday directed by the Centre to proceed on leave in the wake of feud with second-in-command in agency Rakesh Asthana.
The petition by the trio came two weeks after the apex 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.