Supreme Court: No need to probe Rafale deal

Updated: Dec 15, 2018, 12:30 IST | Agencies | New Delhi

Not the court's job to deal with details of pricing when need for aircraft is certain, the CJI ruled

Congress party workers protested the decision outside the Supreme Court on Friday. Pic/Twitter
Congress party workers protested the decision outside the Supreme Court on Friday. Pic/Twitter

There is no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France, the Supreme Court said on Friday and dismissed all the petitions seeking an investigation into alleged irregularities in the Rs 58,000 crore deal.

There was no substantial evidence of commercial favouritism to any private entity, the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said on the issue of an offset partner in its ruling on a batch of petitions.

While one lot sought a court-monitored investigation into the deal, another asked for a direction to the CBI to register an FIR for alleged irregularities. The bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, said it is not the job of the court to deal with the comparative details of the pricing. There has been a necessity for fighter aircraft and the country cannot remain without jets, it said.

Arun Jaitley
Arun Jaitley

The CJI said no reasons were found to interfere in the procurement process for the fighter jets. The Apex Court said it does not find substantial matter to interfere with the issue of procurement, pricing and offset partner.

The court said nobody questioned the procurement of the jets when the deal was finalised in September 2016. It added that questions were raised on jet deal only after former French president Francois Hollande came out with a statement. This cannot be the basis of judicial review, it said. The court said it cannot compel the government to procure 126 or 36 fighter jets.

Advocate M L Sharma was the first petitioner in the case. Later, another lawyer, Vineet Dhanda, moved the court with the plea for court-monitored probe into the deal. AAP leader Sanjay Singh also filed a petition.

Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie along with advocate Prashant Bhushan too moved the court with a plea for an FIR in the 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 Indian Air Force equipment.

The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French company Dassault Aviation. The government had earlier refused to publicly divulge pricing details of the deal.

Allegations 'fiction writing': Jaitley
Finance Minster Arun Jaitley dubbed allegations on the Rafale jet deal as "fiction writing" that compromised national security. Jaitley said "disrupters" have lost on all counts. "Rafale deal has protected both security and commercial interest of India. Allegations on Rafale was fiction writing that was compromising national security," Jaitley said.

'Apologise to people and soldiers'
BJP president Amit Shah said the order is a slap on Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's politics of lies and asked him to apologise to the country and its soldiers for putting national security at risk. "The truth has won. An attempt was made to mislead people. Gandhi should apologise to the nation and the Army."

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