Rafale deal: SC to deliver judgement on PILs

Rafale deal: SC to deliver judgement on PILs

The Supreme Court is scheduled on Friday to pronounce verdict on pleas seeking court-monitored probe into India's multi-billion dollar Rafale fighter jet deal with France. AP/PTI File Photo

The Supreme Court would deliver on Friday its judgement on a batch of PIL questioning the deal with the French government to buy Rafale fighter jets.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph had on November 14 reserved its verdict on petitions filed separately by advocates Manohar Lal Sharma and Vineet Dhanda and AAP MP Sanjay Singh and another one by former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan.

The court had earlier asked the Union government to apprise it of the details of pricing and cost of the 36 Rafale fighter jets, being bought from France following a deal in 2016. It also told the government to share such information on decision-making process which can “legitimately” be put in public domain.

The government has defended the agreement, while maintaining that the issue involved was of national security and could not be a matter of judicial scrutiny or determination. It said the choice of equipment and weaponry must be left to the experts.

Maintaining that the price of Rafale aircraft was not disclosed to Parliament and the RTI would not apply in view of secrecy clause in the agreement, the government has provided entire break-up to the court in a sealed envelop.

The Centre, for its part, had admitted before the court that the inter-governmental agreement signed with France did not carry a sovereign guarantee if Dassault Aviation defaults in supplying Rafale fighter aircraft. Instead, "there is a letter of comfort from the French government,” Attorney General K K Venugopal had told the court.

The petitioners claimed a done-deal was scrapped to strike a fresh one to help Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence Ltd, a company, incorporated just days before as off-set partner in the agreement.