December 14: The Supreme Court three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi also comprising of Justice S K Kaul and Justice K M Joseph, today, being satisfied with the process for procurement, dismissed the petitions seeking a court-monitored probe in the procurement.
The Court while dismissing the batch of petitions said that it finds no reason to interfere in the government contract with France's Dassault Aviation and added that the perception of individuals cannot form the basis for interference.
The petitioners, lawyers M L Sharma and Vineet Dhanda, AAP leader Sanjay Singh,former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan approached Court against the deal and had sought details regarding the process behind selecting Dassault Aviation for the contract and the price negotiated and accused the centre of following a short-circuited procedure of the tender for the 36 Rafale jets.
In response to which, the bench clarified that it is not the job of the Court to dive into the matter of comparative pricing details
The issue pertains to India's estimated deal of 58,000 crores for the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets, a twin-engine Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft with French aviation company Dassault. The deal was entered as a part of the upgrading process of the IAF equipment.
On November 14, the Court reserved its verdict over the batch of petitions challenging the legitimacy of 36 Rafale Fighter Jets deal after dealing with marathon hearing of the Petitions over a political controversial issue.
The bench earlier scrutinised the report submitted by the centre as well as understood the need of the real presence from the officials of the Indian Air Force (IAF) as the matter was purely related to the IAF.
The Court also enquired about the about latest inductions to the Indian Air Force, for which Air Vice Marshal Chalapathi, who informed the court that Sukhoi-30 was the latest induction and further added that Rafale jet was selected as India was in need of 4 plus generation fighters.
In the matter the Centre also clarified it's stand before the Court that the issue of pricing details the Rafale deal are related to "national security" and cannot come under judicial review, though it has submitted pricing details in the Supreme Court in a sealed cover along with a 14-page document titled "Details of the steps in the decision-making process leading to the award of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft order".
The aforesaid document was also shared with the petitioners, excluding the pricing details of the deal, which became the major bone of contention in the issue.
The brief background of the case, an inter-governmental agreement was entered between Indian Government and France to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of €7.87 billion, in order to revamp IAF fleet by introducing Multi-Role Combat Aircrafts. PM Narendra Modi announced the decision in April 2015. As per the deal, the aircraft would be delivered in fly-away condition, including weapons, simulators, spares, maintenance, and Performance-Based Logistics support for five years.