Rafale Deal: SC reserves order on petitions seeking probe into agreement

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its order on petitions seeking court-monitored probe into procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France. A bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph concluded the arguments advanced by various parties which have also sought registration of FIR in connection with the alleged irregularities in the deal.

Earlier in the day, the Narendra Modi government opposed the judicial review of the controversial Rafale deal in the Supreme Court. Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal told the court that the matter was to be determined by the defence experts and can’t be reviewed judicially.

“We have disclosed everything to the court out of respect. But it’s a matter to be determined by the defence experts and can’t be reviewed judicially,” the Attorney General said.

The Supreme Court was examining the pricing details of the Rafale deal, submitted by the Centre before the court in a sealed cover on Tuesday. During the hearing, the petitioners seeking a court-monitored investigation into the deal also made their submissions.

Senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for former BJP leader Arun Shourie, argued that the government had declared the price of the aircraft twice in Parliament. However, now they are saying they can’t reveal the price citing secrecy.

To counter Bhushan, the Attorney General said that the secrecy was not on the pricing of Rafale aircraft but on the weaponry and avionics.

“Secrecy on the pricing of Rafale aircraft is with respect to the weaponry and certain other components that we don’t want our adversary to know. The cost disclosed in the Parliament was only regarding the basic craft,” the AG said.

On this, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that unless the court decides to get into the issue, there is no question of any arguments on the price of Rafale aircraft.

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