SC asks govt to provide details of decision making process in Rafale deal

SC asks govt to provide details of decision making process in Rafale deal

Courtesy : Bureau12/10/2018 08:38

The Supreme Court on Wednesday told the government to provide details of the decision-making process leading to the purchase of Rafale jets but made it clear that this did not construe to be a formal notice on the two petitions it had taken up.

The top court was hearing two public interest litigations, one seeking the details of the agreement India has entered into with France for buying 36 Rafale Fighter Jets and the other seeking setting up of a special investigation team (SIT) under the supervision of the apex court to probe the deal.

A bench headed by chief justice Rajan Gogoi heard the first plea filed by advocate Vineet Dhanda and agreed to take it up on October 10. The bench also ordered tagging of Dhanda’s petition with that of an earlier one filed by advocate ML Sharma who had sought a stay on the fighter jet deal between India and France.

In his plea, Dhanda has sought a direction to the Centre to file in “sealed cover” the details of the agreement between India and France.

“Issue an appropriate writ or direction to the respondents (Centre and the Ministry of Defence) to file the details of the agreement entered into between the Union of India and France with regard to the purchase of 36 Rafale Fighter Jets in a sealed envelope,” read Dhanda’s plea.

He contended that the criticism (of the deal) had reached a “proverbial nadir” and opposition parties have adopted a very “ignominious and profligate way even to criticise the Prime Minister of the country”.

Aam Admi Party’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh too moved the apex court on Monday demanding that an SIT be formed to probe the matter and that the apex court monitor it.

The plea sought that the SIT should probe “as to how the figure of 36 fighter jets was arrived at without the formalities associated with such a highly sensitive defence procurement”. It also questioned the alleged escalation of price of each jet from Rs 526 crore to more than 1,500 crore.

Singh’s plea urged that SIT should “investigate as to how a novice company viz. Reliance Defence came in picture of this highly sensitive defence deal involving Rs 59,000 crore without having any kind of experience and expertise in making of fighter jets”.

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