'PMO did not engage in parallel negotiation in Rafale'

'PMO did not engage in parallel negotiation in Rafale'

Rafale deal can't be reopened on media reports: Centre tells SC

The Union government on Saturday told the Supreme Court the issues related to the 2016 Rafale fighter jets deal from France can't be reopened on the basis of some media reports and an incomplete internal note of the defence ministry.

In a reply to a batch of review petitions against the December 14, 2018 judgement, the government said an attempt was being made "to get a fishing and roving enquiry ordered, which this court has specifically declined to go into based on perceptions of individuals".

Joint Secretary and Acquisition Manager (Air) in the Ministry of Defence filed a response to review petitions filed by former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan.

His affidavit stated that disclosing procurement process will have a serious impact on national security, given the current security environment in the country as well as in the neighbouring countries.

With regard to the apex court's order of April 10 that allowed use of internal documents on the Rafale deal as admissible, the government said letting closely guarded state secrets be obtained through whatever means will have "great repercussions on the very existence of the Indian state".

The apex court is to take up on Monday the batch of review petitions against the December judgement that rejected a plea for probe into the deal.

"The petitioners cannot seek to re-open the whole matter by asking for production of documents in review petition since the scope of review petition itself is extremely limited," the government said.

Among other grounds, the government said the court full pricing details of Rafale jets has been made available to CAG which concluded that the price of 36 Rafale is 2.86% lower than the audit aligned price, apart from having additional benefits.

It also maintained that the monitoring of the progress by PMO of the Rafale purchase process cannot be construed as interference or parallel negotiations.

It also reiterated before that the Government of India has no role in the selection of Indian Offset partner (Anil Ambani's company) in Rafale deal. 

The government said petitioners cannot rely upon "some media reports and some incomplete internal file notings procured unauthorisedly and illegally", to re-open the whole matter through review petitions.

"Contention of that the issue of IOP (Indian Offset Partner) are matters of fact and requires investigation is nothing but an attempt to get a fishing or roving enquiry ordered without even pleading a prima facie case," it said.