The Supreme Court will on Friday deliver its judgment on petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the multi-billion-dollar deal for purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.
The bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph will give its ruling at 10.30 am.
The court had reserved its verdict in the matter on November 14 after hearing extensive arguments.
Four petitions challenging the deal were filed in the apex court — two by lawyers M L Sharma and Vineet Dhanda, one by AAP leader Sanjay Singh and a fourth by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan.
Taking up the petitions for hearing, the bench had asked the central government to submit in a sealed cover the details for the decision-making process leading to award of the contract. The Centre submitted the same, complying with the direction.
Subsequently, the court asked the government to submit the pricing details of the 36 aircraft. Though the Centre initially dithered, citing the secrecy clause in the agreement, it later furnished the details in a sealed cover.
While reserving its order, the court had said it was yet to decide whether the pricing details should be brought into the public domain. “Whether to bring the fact on pricing in public domain or not is a decision we have to take. And we are yet to decide. The question of entering into a debate on the pricing does not arise till we take a decision,” the court observed.
The petitioners had questioned the offset agreements in the deal and alleged that it flouted the Defence Procurement Policy.
The government maintained that it had completely followed the DPP and insisted that the Original Equipment Manufacturer was yet to inform it about the offset agreements.
While the government sought to justify its decision not to make the price public citing national security — the government stand was that by knowing the price, adversaries would be able to relate it to the kind of weaponry and avionics used in the equipment — the petitioners questioned this, saying the technical details were already known as per an earlier Request for Proposal (RFP) floated for purchase of 126 of these jets.
The hearing also saw the court quizzing IAF officials on the induction of fighter aircraft in its fleet.