SC asks Modi govt how it decided on Rafale

The Supreme Court asked the Modi government to provide details of the decision-making process in buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked a cagey-looking Narendra Modi government to provide details of the decision-making process in buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph sought the information of the controversial deal in a “sealed cover”, except details of pricing and suitability of the equipment, by October 29 for the court’s “satisfaction”.

After hearing the counsel for two PILs filed by advocates M L Sharma and Vineet Dhanda, the court sought the views of Attorney General K K Venugopal, who maintained that the issue was not “judicially reviewable” since it involved national security.

“There is a bitter fight 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 pleaded.

The bench, however, said, “Suppose, we ask you to provide details of the decision-making process in a sealed cover. How would you react?”

“I, myself, may not be given the details as it involved national security,” Venugopal responded.

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 decision-making process.”

The court explained that it has not relied upon any of the averment made by the petitioners as those were “grossly inadequate”.

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

In his PIL, advocate Sharma sought quashing of the deal, saying it was an outcome of corruption and that the inter-governmental agreement has not been ratified by Parliament. Vineet Dhanda, whose one prayer was to seek details in a sealed envelope, maintained, “I am sure the truth will come out.”

Another petitioner, activist Tehseen S Poonawalla preferred to withdraw his separate PIL in the matter.

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SC asks Modi govt how it decided on Rafale

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