In the controversial issue of Rafale deal, which is, after a political feud has also embroiled into a legal battle, the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also comprising Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph on Wednesday, declined to issue a notice to the government, however, it sought details of the procedure followed during the decision-making process which resulted in awarding the contract to the Dassault Aviation, further the court clarified that through these details is not asking any information regarding pricing or suitability of the jets.
The observation of the Court came during the hearing of a batch of Public Interest Litigations, filed against the deal of 36 Rafale Fighter Jets. The Court said,
"We are not issuing any notice to the government, we only want to be satisfied about the legitimacy of the decision-making process."
The petitions also include one, seeking directives to the Centre to provide the details in “sealed cover” through which it entered into the deal with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale Fighter Jets.
However, Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing on behalf of the Centre, opposed the petitions and also urged the Court to dismiss the petitions stating that the petition are filed with an alleged intension to achieve political gains. He added,
"These political interest petitions are filed on the eve of elections when the government and opposition are locked in a bitter fight over the Rafale jet deal."
Indian government's deal with France has attracted many pleas challenging the legitimacy of the said deal, including a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by lawyer Vineet Dhanda seeking and urging for a directive order to the Centre revealing contents of the deal along with a comparative price chart during the UPA and NDA rule in a sealed cover to the court.
Besides, an another similar petition by Advocate ML Sharma who approached the Court alleging discrepancies in the fighter jet deal with France and urged to quash the deal on the ground that such deal is not ratified by Parliament under Article 253 of the Constitution which says that Parliament has power to make any law for implementing any inter-government agreement or convention with any other country or countries or any decision made at any international level.
Congress leader Tehseen S Poonawalla, also sought an independent probe into the Rafale deal along with disclosure of the cost involved in the deal before Parliament.
Nonetheless, petition by Poonawalla is not listed yet for hearing.
Sanjay Singh, AAP Rajya Sabha lawmaker, also approached Court seeking constitution of court monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT), in order to probe the Rafale deal in order to elucidate the reasons which led to the cancellation of previous deal by the UPA government made for the purchase of 126 fighter jets.
The court directed the Centre to submit the information by October 29, and posted the matter for next hearing on October 31.