“We are not issuing notice to the government,” the Supreme Court said, while hearing petitions against the Rafale fighter jet deal.
The Rafale deal was announced in 2016 by PM Narendra Modi and then French president Francois Hollande.
NEW DELHI OCT 10, 2018: In the middle of a huge political row over the Rafale fighter jet deal, the government was asked by the Supreme Court today to furnish details of its decision-making process, in a sealed cover by October 29, but clarified that it does not want to get into “pricing or suitability” of the jets. “We are not issuing notice to the government. We make it clear that the court isn’t taking into account arguments made by the petitioner. Their arguments are grossly inadequate,” said a three-judge bench headed by new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
Here are the top 10 updates on this big story:
- “We want to satisfy ourselves on the steps taken in the decision-making. We are not going into the issue of suitability keeping in mind the sensitivity of the issue,” said the Supreme Court on the case that could have a political impact as campaigning picks up for the state and national elections.
- Two petitions by lawyers have sought a court-monitored investigation into the deal and have asked that the centre either reveal details of the deal or scrap it.
- Petitioner ML Sharma argued in court that there was corruption in the 59,000 crore deal for 36 fighters from France’s Dassault.
- The deal was announced in 2016 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talks in Paris with then French president Francois Hollande.
- The opposition has accused the governmentof going for a not-so-favourable contract to benefit Anil Ambani. Both the government and the industrialist have denied the charge.
- The government’s lawyer called the petition politically motivated. Attorney General KK Venugopal told the court: “National security is involved and the court is being used on the eve of polls to gain politically in the bitter fight between the government and the opposition.”
- The political sparring over the Rafale deal escalated sharply after Francois Hollande’s comment in an interview last month that France had no role in the selection of Anil Ambani’s rookie Reliance Defence as India offset partner for Rafale-maker Dassault.
- The previous Congress-led UPA government had negotiated with Dassault for 126 Rafale jets under which 18 jets were to be supplied in a fly-away condition and 108 were to be manufactured in India along with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). However, the UPA could not seal the deal.
- In the deal negotiated by the new government, Anil Ambani’s firm became Dassault’s offset partner with no experience in the field. As part of the offset clause, Dassault has to ensure that business worth at least half the money – 30,000 – is generated in India.
- The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) that Indian Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa says can be a game-changer for India’s defence.