Rafale deal: SC reserves judgement on petitions seeking court-monitored probe

File photo of the Supreme Court of India. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Nov 14, 2018, 05.06 PM (IST) Jessica Taneja

After a four-hour long hearing, the Supreme Court reserved its judgement Wednesday on the clutch of petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the Rafale deal

The government’s response to the Supreme Court — the court had asked for pricing and decision-making details of the deal — met with fiery questions from the petitioners. The petitioners alleged that the procurement of the 36 Rafale jets was announced first and negotiations held later, when it should have been the other way round. 

Questions about the pricing of the jets dominated the day's discourse with the petitioners quizzing the Centre about having provided the details twice in parliament but not to them.

 Advocate Sanjay Singh argued, “This document (centre’s response) is silent on whether a lot of steps involved in defence acquisitions were followed. The matter reached Defence Acquisition Council after the announcement of the deal by prime minister." 

Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan argued that apart from the issues of procedure, offset and pricing, there was a fourth issue — the intergovernment agreement between India and France. 

According to Bhushan, the clauses governing an intergovernmental agreement have not been satisfied and crucial questions remain unanswered. For example, what happens if Dassault Aviation does not deliver? 

Attorney General KK Venugopal told the Supreme Court that the Indian government does not have a guarantee from the French government but it does have a letter of comfort. 

Venugopal also added that India had fallen behind its rivals due to a shortage of fighter aircraft. 

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi meanwhile made it clear that the deal's pricing details would be debated if the court decided to put them out in the public domain.

Story highlights

Questions about the pricing of the jets dominated the day's discourse with the petitioners quizzing the Centre about having provided the details twice in parliament but not to them.