The controversy began after a section of opposition and activists alleged that the government indulged in favouritism and bypassed certain norms to push the deal. They alleged that the deal was badly negotiated, therefore the government ended up paying much more than what it was supposed to pay.
The Supreme Court will pronounce tomorrow its judgement on petitions seeking review of its earlier verdict giving a clean-chit to the Centre on the multi-crore Rafale deal. Controversy began after a section of opposition and activists alleged that the government indulged in favouritism and bypassed certain norms to push the deal. They also alleged that the deal was badly negotiated, therefore the government ended up paying much more than what it was supposed to pay. They suggested a scam and asked for a detailed investigation.
The top court heard the matter and found no substance in the accusations levelled against the Centre. However, the petitioners — Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Prashant Bhushan — again approached the court alleging that the government had suppressed certain facts that have a direct bearing, therefore the verdict needs to be reviewed. The court heard the matter again and the judgement is expected tomorrow.
But before the verdict comes, we take a look at what the top court had said in its previous order.
Decision Making Process
The allegation was that the government did not follow the procurement procedures. The Supreme Court said that it studied the material carefully and also interacted with senior Air Force Officers who answered the court’s queries such as the acquisition process and pricing. It said that “there is no occasion to really doubt the process” and even if minor deviations have occurred, that would not result in either setting aside the deal or requiring a detailed scrutiny by the court. “Broadly, the processes have been followed. The need for the aircraft is not in doubt,” it said in its order.
The charge was that the government was paying much more than the other countries for the same jets. Demand was made to disclose the price of the aircraft.
Supreme Court said that it had examined closely the price details and comparison of the prices of the basic aircraft along with escalation costs. The court said that it went through the explanatory note on the costing, item wise. After examining all the material placed before it, the court noted that it was not the job of the court to carry out a comparison of the pricing details. “We say no more as the material has to be kept in a confidential domain,” it ruled.
The charge was that the government favoured a particular firm to get the contract for manufacturing equipment.
The Supreme Court — after carefully examining all the details and press statements by firms in question — said that it did not find any substantial material on record to show that this was a case of commercial favouritism to any party by the Indian government, as the option to choose the IOP (Indian Offset Partner) does not rest with the Indian government. With these findings, the court dismissed all the petitions.