SC examines Rafale deal from point of national security

The top court found a “somewhat constricted power of judicial review” in examining the defence procurement deals.

The Supreme Court on Friday examined the Rafale deal from the points of “national security and the nation's sovereignty” among others, while exercising a “somewhat constricted power of judicial review”.

It looked into three aspects of the deal, the decision making process, the difference in pricing between the deal proposed by the UPA government in 2012 and the one made by the present dispensation in 2016 and the choice of Indian Offset Partner, a Anil Ambani group of company.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also noted that “Our country cannot afford to be unprepared/under-prepared in a situation where our adversaries are stated to have acquired not only 4th generation, but even 5th generation aircraft, of which, we have none.”

The top court found a “somewhat constricted power of judicial review” in examining the defence procurement deals.

Also read: Rafale case: UPA Govt criticised for not closing deal

It dismissed the PILs filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie to probe the agreement with France

“It is our considered opinion/view that the extent of permissible judicial review in matters of contracts, procurement, etc would vary with the subject matter of the contract and there cannot be any uniform standard or depth of judicial review which could be understood as an across the board principle to apply to all cases of award of work or procurement of goods/material,” the bench, also comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph, said.

The court said that the scrutiny of the challenges before it will have to be made keeping in mind the confines of national security, as the subject of the procurement was crucial to the nation’s sovereignty.

“We also cannot lose sight of the tender in issue. The tender is not for construction of roads, bridges, etc. It is a defence tender for procurement of aircraft. The parameter of scrutiny would give far more leeway to the government, keeping in mind the nature of the procurement itself,” CJI Gogoi who authored the judgement, said.

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SC examines Rafale deal from point of national security

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