New Delhi -°C
Today in New Delhi, India

Oct 21, 2019-Monday
-°C

Humidity
-

Wind
-

Select city

Metro cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata

Other cities - Noida, Gurgaon, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Bhopal , Chandigarh , Dehradun, Indore, Jaipur, Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi

Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

‘No roving inquiry over perceptions’: Supreme Court rejects Rafale probe demand

The verdict was delivered by a bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and justice SK Kaul and justice KM Joseph.

india Updated: Dec 14, 2018 14:35 IST
Ashok Bagriya
Ashok Bagriya
New Delhi
The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the petition seeking a court-monitored Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the purchase of 36 French-made Rafale fighter jets by the government for the Indian Air Force.
The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the petition seeking a court-monitored Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the purchase of 36 French-made Rafale fighter jets by the government for the Indian Air Force.(REUTERS)
         

The Supreme Court on Friday declined to order a CBI probe into the purchase of 36 French-made Rafale jets, holding that it was satisfied that there is no reason to doubt the purchase process or the need for the fighter jets. The court said “perceptions of individuals cannot be a basis for a roving inquiry”.

“We are satisfied that there is no reason to doubt the process is followed and the need of aircraft is not in doubt,” a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising justice SK Kaul and KM Joseph said.

“It is not correct for the court to sit as appellate authority in the aircraft purchase,” the bench observed.

The verdict comes as shot in the arm for the NDA government that has come been sharply criticised by the opposition, which accuses Prime Minister Narendra Modi of single-handedly pushing through the deal to buy overpriced jets without following procedures. The government has also been attacked for buying only 36 aircrafts when the Indian Air Force needed a lot more.

Read full statement here

 

The judges said they have examined the price of basic aircrafts according to the request for proposals and inter governmental agreements.

“We can’t sit in judgment on the wisdom of purchase of the aircrafts... scrutiny had to be made keeping in mind national security. Our country can’t be under-prepared,” the top court said, rejecting a bunch of petitions challenging the deal.

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.

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.

The government said it cannot disclose pricing details publicly on account of a secrecy clause in its agreement with France and to ensure India’s enemies do not get to know details of the India-specific enhancements and weaponry of the Rafale. It had submitted details of the price in a sealed envelope to the Supreme Court, though, and the court said it would not get into the pricing issue.

The government has also explained the process followed in an affidavit filed to the court, which has also been shared with the petitioners.

The NDA government’s decision to enter the $8.7 billion government-to-government deal with France to buy the warplanes made by Dassault was announced in April 2015, with an agreement signed a little over a year later. This replaced the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime’s decision to buy 126 Rafale aircraft, 108 of which were to be made in India by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

It has become controversial, with the opposition, led by the Congress, claiming that the price at which India is buying Rafale aircraft now is Rs 1,670 crore for each, three times the Rs 526 crore, the initial bid by the company when the UPA was trying to buy the aircraft.

The opposition has also questioned the deal over the fact that one of the offset deals signed by Dassault is with a joint venture it has with Reliance Group of Anil Ambani. The Congress claims the earlier deal was scrapped and a new one signed just to provide Ambani with this opportunity for an offset deal.

Both the government and Reliance Group have repeatedly denied this.

First Published: Dec 14, 2018 10:42 IST

top news