Rafale hearing in Supreme Court LIVE Updates: SC reserves judgment on pleas seeking court-monitored probe

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New Delhi | Updated: November 14, 2018 3:53:52 pm

Rafale deal Supreme Court hearing: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved judgment on pleas seeking a court-monitored probe into the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

Rafale hearing in Supreme Court LIVE UpdatesRafale hearing in Supreme Court LIVE Updates: SC questions Centre over offset partner, leaves out pricing details for now

Rafale deal Supreme Court hearing: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved judgment on pleas seeking a court-monitored probe into the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France. After hearing the arguments of the petitioners and AG KK venugopal, CJI Ranjan Gogoi-headed bench said that it will deliver the verdict later.

During the course of argument earlier, noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan said that it is bogus argument by the government that price cannot be disclosed due to secrecy and urged the court to pass an order directing the CBI to file FIR. He questioned how does the issue of price compromise national security. “If I may point out, it was disclosed twice in Parliament formally,” he said.

The Centre had on Monday given procedural details in pursuance of the apex court’s October 31 order. The details were also shared with the petitioner ML Sharma and NGO Common Cause of Prashant Bhushan. The government had also submitted the pricing details of the deal to the court in a sealed cover.

Also Read: Centre makes Rafale documents public, says procedure completely followed

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Rafale hearing in Supreme Court: Top court reserves judgement


    15:53 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Rafale hearing in Supreme Court: Centre defends secrecy clause

    The Centre has defended the secrecy clause related to the pricing of the 36 Rafale fighter jets in the Supreme Court on Wednesday and said it cannot divulge details of the deal. These matters are for the experts to deal with and "we have been saying that even Parliament has not been told about the complete cost of jets", Attorney General K K Venugopal told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. The top law officer said the Centre has given in a sealed cover the complete details of the Rafale jets, the weapons to be fitted on the aircraft and other requirements.

    15:51 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Rafale jets could have avoided huge casualties in Kargil war, says Attorney General K K Venugopal

    Attorney General K K Venugopal concluded his argument saying that Rafale aircrafts are potent and "had we possessed Rafale during the Kargil war, we could have avoided huge casualties as Rafale is capable of hitting targets from a distance of 60 kms".

    15:25 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Rafale deal: SC reserves judgmenton court-monitored probe

    After hearing arguments of petitioners and government, the three judges bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi has reserved the judgment in petitions seeking Court-monitored probe in to the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

    15:22 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Rafale deal timeline

    2007: Indian Air Force sends proposal to buy Medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) to then Congress-led UPA government. Tender was issued by the government and in August Dassault places its bid for Rafale.

    September 2008: Reliance Group chairman Mukesh Ambani set up new company -- Reliance Aerospace Technologies Ltd. (RATL). At that time, there were reports that Ambani's firm was in talks with Dassault and the two hav even agreed for a joint venture.

    2011: Indian Air Force shortlists Rafale and Eurofighter jets.

    2012: Bids were finally opened and Rafale comes up with the lowest bid. It was reported that 126 jets required of which 18 will be deported and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will manufacture the remaining 108 jets. Dassault was supposed to assist the HAL in manufacturing the fighter jets.

    2014: Negotiations over pricing, technology, weapon system, customisation and maintenance were underway between India and France. If reports are to go by, workshare agreement between HAL and Dassault Aviation was also signed. According to the Congress party's claim, it had negotiated a deal with price of Rs 526.1 crore per jet.

    March 2015: Reliance Defence was incorporated by Mukesh Ambani's younger brother Anil Ambani.

    April 10, 2015: Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits France. After holding taks with then President Francois Hollande, he announced decision to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets in flyway condition.

    June 2015: Defence Ministry withdraws 126 aircraft deal tender.

    January 2016: Then French President Francois Hollande visits India on the occasion of Republic Day. During his visit, New Delhi and Paris sign a MoU on the ourchase of Rafale fighter jets.

    September 2016: India and France sign deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets for euro 7.87 billion (approximately Rs 58,000 crores).

    October 2016: Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence and Dassault Aviation announce a joint venture.

    2018: ML Sharma filed a petition in Supreme Court seeking quashing of the deal and registration of FIR against PM Modi, then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Dassault. It even urged the court to order for recovery of the money involved in the deal. Noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan, AAP MP Sanjay Singh also file pleas in the Supreme Court seeking probe into the deal.

    14:50 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Which countries have bought Rafale from Dassault? asks CJI

    Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asks AG Venugopal which are the countries that have bought Rafale from Dassault? The AG replied: 'Qatar, Egypt and France.' The CJI then asked Venugopal about the argument of the petitioner that France has not given sovereign guarantee to the deal. To this, AG said that there is no sovereign guarantee, but a letter of comfort by France. "This is a sensitive issue involving the security of country," the AG added.

    14:49 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Kustice KM Joseph grills Defence official on offset clause

    Justice Joseph asks Additional Secy (Defence) as to how country's interests will be protected if offset partner does not carry out production amd what was need to amend offset guidelines with retrospective effect? The Secretary responds, "It is for the Government to accept the choice made by the Original Equipment Manufacturer of the offset partner."

    14:38 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Additional Defence Secretary appears before Supreme Court

    Additional Secretary, Defence, now appears before the court. The official is apprising the top court about the details of offset contract. Earlier today, the apex court said that a discussion on the pricing of jets can only take place if the facts of the deal are allowed to come into the public domain.

    14:37 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Jstice KM Joseph questions AG on announcement of new deal

    Justice KM Joseph asked AG KK Venugopal how the Prime Minister could announce new deal in April 2015 when the Request For Proposal of earlier deal was pending. CJI interjects and comes to AG's aid by saying "your own note says that withdrawal process had begun in March 2015".

    14:34 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Rafale hearing in SC: CJI interacting with IAF official

    CJI interacting with IAF officials present inside the court room. Justice Gogoi asked the Air Marshall, which is the latest induction to IAF and also the latest being manufactured in India? He responds, 'Sukhoi 30 is the latest induction.' he added that the latest being manufactured in India is 3rd generation Mirage. The proposed new air craft is 5th generation with stealth technology.

    14:14 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Rafale hearing: Air Vice Marshal in Supreme Court

    Air Vice Marshal Chalapathi is present inside Court number 1 and answering the questions put forth by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

    14:13 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Brief details about Rafale deal

    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 estimated cost of the deal is Rs 58,000 crore. The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation.

    14:11 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Rafale hearing resumes in Supreme Court

    The crucial Rafale hearing has resumed in the Supreme Court after lunch. Air Force officials are reportedly present in the top court. 

    13:14 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Rafale hearing to continue after 2 pm

    Supreme Court bench hearing Rafale case rises for lunch. The Rafale hearing to continue at 2 pm. 'Decision we need to take is whether or not to bring pricing facts in public domain. Any discussion on pricing of Rafale fighter jets can only take place if facts are allowed to come in public domai,' Suprme Court said during Rafale hearing.

    12:54 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    SC wants to meet someone from IAF

    After hearing the argument submitted by the petitioners, CJI Ranjan Gogoi said, "We want to meet someone from Indian Air Force, not from (Defence) Ministry. After all we are dealing with Air Force."

    To this, AG KK Venugopal said: "He will be here soon."

    12:51 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    HAL fully capable to manufacture aircraft, says Arun Shourie

    In his argument, Arun Shourie said that a company of the experience of Dassault which was set up in 1929 would not have chosen a company here with no experience at all. "Dassault itself has been in serious financial difficulty," he argued. Shourie further quoted then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to claim the he was unaware of this deal. He said that price per aircraft was also increased. On government's argument on offset, he said that HAL fully capable to produce aircraft, rubbishes statements by govt that HAL not capable.

    12:46 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Aspects on pricing need not be discussed now, says SC

    CJI Ranjan Gogoi said that the aspects on pricing need not to be discusses now. He said, "It needs to be debated only if the Court decides that aspects on pricing needs to come in public domain." AG KK Venugopal readily agrees.

    12:31 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Ttop officials abused authority, CBI should register FIR: Prashant Bhushan

    Bhushan said that top officials have abused their authority as public servants by giving this contract to Dassault at inflated prices and by giving offset to Reliance. “It is therefore in the nature of a commission and constitutes an offence under Prevention of Corruption Act. Hence, CBI has to register an FIR as per Lalita Kumari judgment and conduct a probe. This has not been done despite our complaint to CBI, hence we have approached this court,” he said.

    12:30 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Bogus argument by govt on procing: Prashant Bhushan

    On pricing issue, Prashant Bhushan said that government has not disclosed anything to us on pricing. When Bhushan cited Secrecy agreement, Attorney General KK Venugopal objecteds. “"How did he get it? It is supposed to be a secret. He should disclose his source,” the AG asked. To this, Prashant Bhushan replied that he got it from a 2008 book on defence.

    “How does the issue of price compromise national security. If I may point out, it was disclosed twice in Parliament formally. If it is a matter of national security, then the government has compromised national security twice by disclosing it in Parliament,” Bhushan said. He said that the government has only said that this price is better than the earlier price, but how is it. “In any case, this is covered by RTI Act and it is a bogus argument by government to say that price cannot be disclosed due to secrecy etc.”

    12:26 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    'Offset guidelines require Dassault to get approval for offset partner'

    Bhushan said that for the government to say that they don't know who offset partner runs totally contrary to the procedure laid down since as per the procedure, the offset partner has to be approved by Defence Minister. “So according to government, Dassault can execute offset contract with whoever it wants without even the Defence Ministry knowing about it,” he argued.

    He said that there are many clauses in offset guidelines which require Dassault to disclose and get approval for offset partner.

    12:20 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    What government told SC in affidavit?

    The Centre had on Monday submitted that all set procedures were followed by the government at the time of signing the deal. It said that the purchase of Rafale fighter jets was in conformity with the process laid down in the Defence Procurement Procedure of 2013. The Centre said that Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), Indian Negotiating Team (INT) were constituted which conducted negotiations with France for around one year. It also said that approval of Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) was taken before the signing the inter-government agreement.

    11:58 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Offset given to company which has no experience: Prashant Bhushan

    On offset, Prashant Bhushan said that a week after joint statement, French press reported that offset will be given to Anil Ambani's company and that is why deal was changed. He said that nobody knew about this change, neither Cabinet nor Defence Acquisition Council, not even the Defence Minister, submits Prashant Bhushan.

    “Offset is being given to a company which has no experience in manufacturing defence equipments or aircraft,” he said. “And even this 36 aircraft has not been delivered.”

    11:51 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Prashant Bhushan questions why no transfer of technology?

    Bhushan said that Dassault Chairman had in a press conference in 2015 spoke about how deal will be signed and 108 aircraft will be manufactured by HAL in India and there will be transfer of technology. “But a few weeks later, joint statement is issued out of the blue, submits. As per the new statement, only 36 aircraft will be purchased and there will be no transfer of technology,” he said.

    11:49 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Rafale deal hearing: Prashant Bhushan makes submissions

    Noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan said that apart from the issues of procedure, offset and pricing, there is a fourth issue of circumventing of tender by going for an Intergovernmental agreement. According to Bhushan, there are three conditions for going for an Intergovernmental Agreement which are not satisfied.

    11:40 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Sanjay Singh's counsel makes submissions

    AAP leader Sanjay Singh's counsel makes submissions. Singh's lawyer said that Centre has not disclosed price to the court but they have disclosed price in Parliament twice. “Till March 25, 2015 the earlier deal of 126 aircraft is on. Suddenly in less than two weeks, without cancelling the earlier deal the Centre announced the new deal.” He said that in the document submitted to the court, Centre has conveniently adopted lot of aspects of earlier deal while this court sought details of new deal.

    “The document is silent on whether a lot of steps involved in defence acquisitions were followed or not. The matter reached Defence Acquisition Council after the announcement of the deal by Prime Minister,” AAP MP's lawyer said.

    11:32 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Rafale deal hearing: Lawyer for Vineet Dhanda argues in SC

    In her arguments, Vineet Dhanda's lawyer questioned how can Prime Minister make a statement regarding purchase of aircraft before the agreement was finalised.

    10:50 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Rafale deal: Hearing begins in Supreme Court

    Hearing in the Supreme Court is underway. Petitioner Manohar Lal Sharma argued that PM Narendra Modi had announced the deal even before the negotiations. According to a PTI report, Sharma said that the inter government agreement was "illegal" and sought an investigation in the matter.

    A bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph is also likely to peruse the pricing details submitted by the government in a sealed cover.

    10:40 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Rafale deal: No wrong-doing, says Dassault Aviation CEO

    On Tuesday, Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier’s claimed no wrong-doing in the Rs 58,000 crore deal between India and France asserting it was a clean deal. He also claimed that his company chose Reliance as an offset partner. French aerospace major Dassault Aviation has partnered with Reliance Defence Ltd for delivering 36 Rafale fighter jets to the Indian Air Force(IAF). CLICK HERE TO READ MORE


    10:29 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Watch: First look of Rafale fighter jet

    The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation. As per the agreement signed between India and France, Indian Air Force (IAF) will 36 fighter jets. The estimated cost of the deal is Rs 58,000 crore.

    10:17 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Rafale deal hearing: Who filed petitions in SC?

    Petitions seeking the probe in the Rafale deal were first filed by advocates Manohar Lal Sharma and Vineet Dhanda. Later, AAP MP Sanjay Singh also moved a petition in the court seeking probe. Former union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan had also filed a joint petition in the apex court. Interestingly,

    09:59 (IST)14 Nov 2018
    Why 36 Rafale not 126?

    In its submission, the government has cited security considerations to justify the aborting of the earlier process for the procurement of 126 jet fighters (18 in fly-away condition and 108 to be manufactured in India). It said that during this long period of inconclusive 126 MMRCA process, our adversaries inducted modern aircraft and upgraded their older versions.

    The Rafale matter reached the Supreme Court earlier this year. Petitioners ML Sharma and Vineet Dhanda urged the top court to step in and order the government to reveal the details of the deal. According to Sharma, the deal has caused massive loss to the state exchequer. He had even asked the court to pass an order to file cases against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, then Defence Minister Manphar Parrikar and Rafale maker Dassault Aviation and also recover money from them. Another petitioner, Tehseen Poonawalla, had, however, withdrawn his petition. Later, noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan's Common Cause had also filed a plea in the Supreme Court seeking a probe by the CBI. Initially, the Centre had urged the court to junk the petitions terming the petitions politically motivated and not a public interest litigation. But the court admitted the pleas and asked the government share details.
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