The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to provide details of the decision-making process of the controversial Rafale deal in a sealed cover. The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, however, clarified that it didn't want information on pricing and technical details of the deal.
"We want to satisfy ourselves on the steps taken in the decision-making. We are not going into the issue of suitability keeping in mind the sensitivity of the issue," the Supreme Court bench said.
The bench was hearing a batch of pleas seeking to direct the Narendra Modi government to file in “sealed cover” the details of the agreement India had entered into with France to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets and comparative prices during the UPA and NDA rule. The apex court also made it clear that it was not considering the allegations made in petitions.
"Issue an appropriate writ ...or direction directing the respondents (Centre and the Ministry of Defence) to file the details of the agreement entered into between the Union of India and France with regard to the purchase of 36 Rafale Fighter Jets in a sealed envelope," a petition, filed by senior lawyer Vineet Dhanda, said.
The Centre had opposed the PILs against the Rafale deal and sought their dismissal, saying that they were filed to gain political mileage. Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal argued that the Rafale deal pertained to the national security and the issues cannot be reviewed judicially.
The controversial deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France was announced in 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then French president Francois Hollande.
The Congress party had alleged that the deal was signed on a very high price compared to what was decided during the UPA government. Congress president Rahul Gandhi claimed that the deal was signed on a high price to benefit a “businessman friend” of Modi.