Supreme Court reserves order on Rafale

The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its order on a batch of pleas seeking a probe into the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

After hearing the arguments of the petitioners and Attorney General KK venugopal, A bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi said that it will deliver the verdict later.

On Monday, the Centre had handed over, in a sealed cover, one set of documents to the Supreme Court containing details of the pricing of the fighter aircraft.

On the price of the Rafale aircraft, Prashant Bhushan said that the government was hiding behind the secrecy clause of the agreement.

Venugopal defended the Narendra Modi government’s decision citing national security concerns and told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that 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”,

The bench, also comprising justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, said any discussion on pricing of the Rafale fighter jets can only take place if the facts on the deal are allowed to come in the public domain.

“The decision we need to take is whether to bring the fact on pricing in public domain or not,” the bench said.

Venugopal admitted that there was no sovereign guarantee by the French government backing the deal obligating it to take the responsibility in case of default in delivery of the jets. However, he added that there is a letter of comfort by France.