The Supreme court on Wednesday asked the government to share pricing and strategic details of Rafale fighter-jet aircraft in a sealed envelope.
The top court has directed the Centre to submit details about the pricing of Rafale jets and it’s advantages in 10 days.
The Attorney General objected to this demand claiming this information is not privy even to Parliament
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices U U Lalit and K M Joseph also asked the Centre to share information which can be brought in the public domain with the petitioners.
The top court, which has now fixed the matter for hearing on November 14, said documents considered strategic and confidential may not be shared.
The bench had earlier directed the Centre to provide in a sealed cover the “details of the steps” taken in the decision making process leading to the deal, but clarified that it did not want information on “pricing” and “technical suitability” of the fighter jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
India signed an agreement with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in a fly-away condition as part of the upgrading process of the Indian Air Force equipment. The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation.
Indian Air Force had advanced a proposal to buy 126 fighter aircraft in August 2007 and floated a tender. Following this, an invitation was sent to various aviation companies to participate in the bidding process.
Rahul Gandhi and his Congress party have been attacking the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale deal, alleging corruption and favouritism.
Two former union ministers and Bhushan have sought registration of an FIR into the fighter jet deal between India and France alleging “criminal misconduct” by high public functionaries. The trio has also sought a direction to CBI to investigate the offences mentioned in their complaint in a “time-bound” manner and submit periodic status reports to the apex court.
They have claimed that in 2007 tenders were issued by the Ministry of Defence for the purchase of 126 fighter aircraft and it was specified in the Request for Proposal that 18 of these aircraft would be purchased from abroad in a ‘fly-away’ condition. The remaining 108 were to be manufactured in India in the factory of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with transfer of technology from the foreign vendor.
The plea said that Dassault Company manufacturing the Rafale aircraft was declared the lowest tenderer and thereafter price negotiations began which were at a very advanced stage by March 25, 2015. “However within 15 days of this, the Prime Minister of India and the President of France announced a totally new deal jettisoning the virtually complete 126 aircraft deal and the Prime Minister on behalf of India agreed to purchase only 36 Rafale aircraft in a ‘fly-away’ condition without any transfer of technology and make in India.