The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the government to share with it the details of the decision-making process that went into finalising the Rafale deal. The move is aimed at bringing more clarity on how the decision was made by the Supreme Court. The apex court’s directions came after two lawyers filed different petitions in SC alleging irregularities in the multi-crore deal.
Earlier, lawyer Vineet Dhanda filed a plea in the top court and sought a direction to the Centre to reveal details of the Rafale deal and comparative prices during the Congress-led UPA and the BJP-led NDA rule in a sealed cover. However, the Supreme Court refused to go into pricing details. At a time when the allegations over Rafale are flying thick and fast, what does top court’s directive to the government mean for the government?
How the decision was made
The Congress has accused the government of bypassing several committees including defence procurement procedure to strike the deal for 36 fighter jets. Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram had earlier said that there was a Contract Negotiation Committee that never met for Rafale deal. After the apex court’s order, the country will know whether the government had followed the laid down procedure to secure the deal.
No details on pricing
The Supreme Court has categorically stated that it was not seeking any details on the pricing of the jets, which has been the key issue in the entire Rafale deal. The apex court’s order is a setback for the Congress as it has been asking the government to reveal the prices of the jets. Rahul Gandhi on several occasions has alleged that Prime Minister Modi inflated the original negotiated deal therefore causing massive loss to the exchequer.
Win for the government?
The government has refused to share the pricing details citing national security issue. According to the Centre, price disclosure will reveal technological add-ons that the government added to the original deal and therefore will help the adversaries and compromise national security. The Supreme Court’s decision has given respite to the government. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi-headed SC bench clearly said that it was not looking for the information related to pricing and technical details of the deal.
In 2016, India had signed a deal to procure 36 Rafale aircraft in fly-away condition from France.