New Delhi: The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, has ordered the Center to furnish pricing details of controversial Rafale deal. The government has so far maintained that the details of the defence deal are “confidential” due to a “secrecy clause”. The court has asked details to submit within 10 days in a sealed cover.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi which also comprised Justice UU Lalit and Justice KM Joseph has asked the Centre to share information on the decision-making process of Rafale deal also with the petitioners, which can be legitimately brought into public domain. The bench also added that if the Centre could not share pricing details with the court, then the Centre should file an affidavit.
“At this stage, we would not like to record any finding or views with regard to the contents of the said report. Rather, we are of the opinion that such of the core information conveyed to the court in the aforesaid confidential report which can legitimately be brought into the public domain be made available to the counsels for the petitioners in all the cases, as well as, the petitioners in person,” the bench said.
The bench has also cleared to attorney general KK Venugopal that confidential and strategic information need not to be shared in the court. KK Venugopal has expressed concern that some information may also be covered under the Official Secrets Act.
The apex court was hearing a batch of petitions demanding inquiry into the Rafale deal under a government to government contract. The petitions also included the ones filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan.
The deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets between India and France came under scanner and the opposition, especially the Congress, raised the issue in a big way when a top official of Dassault Aviation reportedly said India made it compulsory for Dassault to make Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence an offset partner in order to get the deal.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the new deal for 36 Rafale jets during his France visit in 2015 surprising many because the government junked the negotiations for 128 fighter jets with Dassault, which had won the bid for the 128 medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force.