Apex Court reserves order on petitions seeking probe into Rafale deal

The Apex Court on Wednesday has reserved order on petitions seeking court-monitored probe into the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France.

A Supreme Court bench comprising of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph questioned the Indian Air Force Team to understand the case better before arriving on any decision.

Supreme Court said that since the case is related to the requirements of the IAF, it was necessary to take the force’s version. CJI Gogoi said, “We don’t want anyone from the (defence) ministry.” Vice Chief of Air Force Air Marshal V R Chaudhari and two other senior Air Force officers then appeared before the bench to assist them and explain the requirement of the jets for the force.

Earlier in the day Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, while arguing for the government, said that the apex court is judicially not competent to decide what aircraft and weapons can be bought as it is a matter for experts.

Venugopal once again raised the secrecy clause related to the pricing in the Rafale deal and said that it cannot be disclosed. “We have been saying that even Parliament has not been told about the complete cost of jets,” said Venugopal.

The Centre on Monday has submitted the pricing details of the deal to the court in a sealed cover. The Government also shared the process details of the deal with all the petitioners on Monday.

India signed an agreement with France to purchase 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts. However, the pricing details of the deal were not disclosed by the government owing to the terms of the contract.

The opposition parties in the country have been accusing the government of corruption.

The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions.

The Rafale is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault.

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