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SC asks Centre to submit Rafale jet deal price details in 10 days to court

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court directed the Centre to submit the price and other details of the Rafale fighter jet deals in a sealed envelope within 10 days to the top court.

Clarifying that it doesn’t want technical details pertaining to the Rafale deal, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to share information which can be brought in the public domain with the petitioners. Details considered “strategic and confidential” can be held back, added the top court.

 

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices U U Lalit and K M Joseph was listening to two PILs filed lawyers Manohar Lal Sharma and Vineet Dhanda on India’s deal with France to buy the fighter jets.

The top court has now fixed the matter for hearing on November 14.

During the hearing, Attorney General K K Venugopal said that the pricing of the jet is something exclusive and can’t be shared. To this, the top court asked the centre to file an affidavit stating the same.

The top court, on October 10, had directed the Centre to provide in a sealed cover the “details of the steps” taken in the decision-making process, sans pricing and technical information, which led to the deal.

Dassault Aviation is expected to deliver the 36 fighter jets to India from 2019.

A huge political row over the Centre’s deal with France, spearheaded by Congress party, emerged in the past few months. Congress president Rahul Gandhi has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of benefitting Reliance Defence’s Anil Ambani with the deal.

Earlier this month, an investigative report by French news website Mediapart claimed that it was “imperative and obligatory” for Dassault Aviation to agree to work with Anil Ambani’s firm in order to procure the contract to produce 36 Rafale jets for India.

The report quoted a leaked company document of Dassault Aviation, where a senior company executive was recorded as saying the same.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the procurement of a batch of 36 Rafale jets after talks with the then French President Hollande on April 10, 2015 in Paris. The final deal was sealed on September 23, 2016.