The Supreme Court will on Friday give a verdict on a batch of petitions seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the government’s procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from French company Dassault Aviation, Bar and Bench reported.
The Congress has accused the government of overpaying for the fighter aircraft and claimed that the deal has benefitted businessman Anil Ambani. Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s allegations were bolstered by former French President Francois Hollande’s claim in September that the Indian government had proposed the name of Ambani’s Reliance Defence for the offset obligations in the deal.
The petitions have been filed by lawyer Prashant Bhushan, and former Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie.
On November 14, the Supreme Court had reserved its verdict on the petitions, adding that the pricing details of the controversial jet deal need not be discussed at the time. “It needs to be debated only if the court decides that aspects on pricing needs to come in public domain,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said.
During the hearing, Bhushan had told the court that apart from the procedure, offset and pricing aspects of the deal, claims of the “circumventing of tender by going for an inter-governmental agreement” also need to be considered. The object of the inter-governmental agreement was ‘only to obviate the need for a tender’, he had alleged.
The Centre has contended that the procurement process laid down in the Defence Procurement Procedure, 2013, had been followed. On October 31, the top court had asked the Centre to submit more details – including pricing and strategic details – related to the Rafale aircraft deal in a sealed cover in 10 days.