‘No commercial favouritism’: What Supreme Court judges said in Rafale deal ruling
Dismissing petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets by the Indian government, the Supreme Court on Friday said there was no reason for interference.
In a unanimous decision by a three-judge bench – comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justices SK Kaul and K M Joseph-- the court said there was no reason to doubt the process.
Here is what the CJI said while delivering the judgment:
* There is no reason for interference in the choice of offset partner and perception of individuals can’t be the basis for roving inquiry in sensitive issue of defence procurement.
* We don’t find any material to show that it’s commercial favouritism.
* It’s not proper for the court to examine each aspect of this case. It isn’t the job of court to compare pricing details.
* We are satisfied that there is no reason to doubt that process was followed, need for the aircraft is not in doubt
* A country can’t afford to be under-prepared. Not correct for the Court to sit as an appellant authority and scrutinise all aspects
The petitions challenging the deal were filed by activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, former Union ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh and advocates ML Sharma and Vineet Dhanda earlier this year.
They had questioned the deal over the lack of transparency over the pricing of the jets; an offsets deal that seemed to favour a private firm; flouting of due process in closing the deal; and that the deal isn’t a government-to-government deal at all as it has been pitched because France refused to offer India a sovereign guarantee and instead gave it a letter of comfort. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has denied most of these charges.
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