India’s top court, the supreme court on Wednesday (10) has asked the federal government to hand over the complete details of the decision-making process on the Rafale fighter jet agreement with the French government.
The apex court asked the concerned to provide the details of the deal by October 29 in a sealed cover except for information on pricing and technical particulars. The court has also postponed the hearing to October 31 on the two public interest litigations (PILs).
The three-member bench comprising chief justice Ranjan Gogoi, justice SK Kaul, and justice MM Joseph has informed that the court was not taking into its account the corruption allegations made over the deal in the petition.
The Indian government has objected the PILs filed on the deal alleging corruption. The government sought that the PILs can be rejected on the ground that they were filed for political gains.
Attorney general K K Venugopal told the supreme court that the matters in question refer to national security and such issues cannot be reviewed judicially. The top court, however, didn’t issue any notice to the federal government on the two PILs filed by two separate lawyers seeking a court monitored investigation on the agreement.
The apex court has also heard some petitions which sought necessary direction from the court asking the federal government to disclose the information on the Rafale agreement and the comparative prices during UPA and NDA led governments in a sealed cover to the top court.
Meanwhile, Indian National Congress (INC) party leader and Right to Information (RTI) activist Tehseen Poonawala withdrew his PIL against the fighter jet deal. Poonawala in his petition sought the top court for a directive against the federal government on why the union cabinet’s nod was not sought as part of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) before inking the procurement deal with France in 2016.
The Rafale agreement was signed between India and France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets in a fly-away condition as part of India’s efforts to modernise its air force.
Indian Air Force had advanced a proposal to purchase 126 fighter jets last year and notified a tender. Accordingly, various defense equipment producing companies received the invitation to take part in the bidding process.