Declining to issue a notice to the government on Rafale deal, the Supreme Court on Wednesday sought details of the steps taken during the decision-making process leading up to the award of the contract to Dassault Aviation. The apex court clarified that it was not seeking any information related to pricing or suitability of the jets.
The order came from a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on a batch of PILs, including the one seeking directions to the Centre to file in “sealed cover” the details of the agreement India has entered into with France for buying 36 Rafale Fighter Jets.
Appearing for Centre, Attorney General K K Venugopal sought dismissal of the petitions saying they were “intended to achieve political gains in the bitter fight between Opposition and ruling party”.
Earlier, the top court had adjourned to October 10 the hearing on the plea filed by lawyer M L Sharma seeking a stay on the Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France.
Sharma has claimed in his plea that the inter-government agreement to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets must be quashed as it was an “outcome of corruption” and not ratified by Parliament under Article 253 (Parliament has power to make any law for implementing any inter-government agreement) of the Constitution.
A similar plea was filed in the apex court in March this year by Congress leader Tehseen S Poonawalla, seeking an independent probe into the Rafale deal and disclosure of the cost involved in the deal before Parliament. However, the plea is yet to be listed for hearing. Poonawala had sought a direction against the Centre on why the Union Cabinet’s approval was not sought as part of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) before signing the procurement deal with France on September 23, 2016.
AAP Rajya Sabha lawmaker Sanjay Singh had also moved the apex court through his lawyer, Dheeraj Kumar Singh, by filing a separate petition on the defence deal.
The MP has sought setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the supervision of the apex court to probe the Rafale deal. The plea has sought that the SIT should probe the reasons for cancellation of earlier deal entered into by the UPA government for the purchase of 126 fighter jets.
with PTI inputs