In a boost to Modi govt SC dismisses all Rafale deal petitions

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In a relief to the Narendra Modi government, the Supreme Court, on Friday, dismissed all four petitions seeking enquiry into the 36 Rafale fighter jet deal and said that ‘no investigation is needed into it.’

The petitions sought a court-monitored CBI probe into the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets in a ready-to-fly condition from French company Dassault Aviation

The opposition has levied charges of corruption against the government in the Rs 50,000 crore deal for buying 36 planes from Dassault. The government has denied all charges.

The three-judge bench led by the Chief Justice said there was no reason to doubt the centre’s procurement process. Dismissing the petitions the apex court said perceptions of individuals cannot form the basis of judicial interference.

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The court said it was satisfied that the process for procurement had been complied with in the case of Rafale. Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, said the court cannot sit in judgment over the decision to buy 36 aircraft instead of 126, nor can it go into the details of pricing. It is not correct for the court to sit as an appellant authority and scrutinise all aspects of such a deal, he said, according to ANI.

 

Gogoi also said it is not for the centre but for the vendor to decide on offset partner in the deal, and it is not the court’s job to go into this either. The bench said it could not find any material to show there was ‘commercial favouritism’ in the process, ANI reported.

The bench said there has been a necessity of fighter aircraft and the country cannot remain without fighter jets, PTI reported.

Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph who were a part of the bench that was hearing petitions filed by lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie. Lawyer ML Sharma and Vineet Dhanda and Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh have also filed petitions against the deal.

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On November 14, the Supreme Court had reserved its verdict on the petitions, saying the pricing details of the 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,” Gogoi had said.

The Congress has accused the government of overpaying for the fighter aircraft and claimed that the deal has benefited businessman Anil Ambani.In September, former French President Francois Hollande also said that the Indian government had proposed the name of Ambani’s Reliance Defence for the offset obligations in the deal.

The government has refused to reveal the per-plane price that it has negotiated in the deal, citing a secrecy agreement with France.

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