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Rafale deal: SC asks Centre for pricing details, govt says cannot share

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

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Oct 31, 2018, 11.44 AM (IST)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the central government for pricing details of the Rafale deal. The court also asked for details of the deal's offset partner. 

The court told the government that details of the deal that should legitimately be in the public domain should be shared with the petitioners who have filed PILs against the deal. 

The court added that the details should be handed over in a sealed cover within the next 10 days. 

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The court made clear Wednesday that it did not want technical details of the deal, saying that none of the PILs filed against the deal had challenged the suitability of the fighter jet. 

The court also added that the government did not need to hand over any details that were secret, or which might affect national security. 

Attorney General KK Venugopal however told the court that the deal's pricing details could not be shared with the court, in reply to which the court ordered the Centre to file an affidavit saying why that was so. 

The court had earlier asked the government for details of the deal's decision-making process

The opposition has accused the Narendra Modi-led government of corruption in the Rafale deal.  

An original deal to buy 126 Rafale fighter planes from France's Dassault Aviation had been brokered by the UPA government. Then, in 2015, Modi signed a new government-to-government deal with then French president Francois Hollande to buy 36 of the planes. 

The opposition — led by Congress president Rahul Gandhi — says the NDA government is paying three times as much as the UPA government had agreed to pay for every Rafale. The opposition has also accused the government of crony capitalism. 

According to India's defence acquisition rules, a foreign company making a large sale to India has to funnel 30% of the money paid to it back into India. That by definition requires it to have an Indian partner or partners. 

The original Indian partner in the Rafale deal was the public sector HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd). But HAL was turfed out of the new deal, in favour of Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence which has little to no experience in the defence and aerospace industries. 

The government had earlier said it was Dassault which chose Reliance and they had nothing to do with it but Hollande, while on a trip to India, recently said it was the Indian government which had suggested Reliance's name.