SC hearing in Rafale deal begins

SC hearing in Rafale deal begins

The Supreme Court will on Wednesday consider the decision-making process adopted by the Narendra Modi government in the deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in 2016.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi would take up the PILs filed by advocates M L Sharma and Vineet Dhanda on this morning around 10.45 am.

The court is also to consider separately two other PILs one filed by AAP MP Sanjay Singh and another one by former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan.

The court had on October 10 sought the information in “sealed cover” of the controversial deal, except details of pricing and suitability of the equipment, by October 29 for the court's “satisfaction”.

The court's proceedings on Wednesday would be keenly watched as the Union government has faced a lot of flak for favouring Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence Ltd in determining offset partner of the French company enabling it to garner huge sums.

Attorney General K K Venugopal had earlier maintained the issue was not “judicially reviewable” since it involved the question of national security.

"There is a bitter right between the opposition and the ruling party on the issue. It is not a PIL in the traditional sense. Please don't entertain the PIL,” he had pleaded.

Brushing aside his opposition, the bench said, “We are not issuing a notice at this stage. However, we would like to be apprised by the Union government of the details of the steps of the decisions making process.”

The court had explained that it has not relied upon any of the averments made by the petitioners as those were "grossly inadequate".

The main opposition party, Congress had accused the Modi government of huge corruption in helping Anil Ambani's company, Reliance Defence Ltd, to be offset partner in the deal with Dassault for buying 36 fighter jets. It also accused the government of striking the deal at the higher price and sought its disclosure.

Sinha, Shouri and Bhushan, in their plea, sought a registration of an FIR into the complaint filed by them with the CBI on October 4 and monitoring of the probe by the top court. It is expected that Sinha may ask the court to allow him personally argue his case.

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