NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce its verdict on Friday on pleas seeking a court-monitored probe in the Rafale deal with France. The court will decide whether the government followed the right procedure in finalising the deal. The deal came under political scrutiny in India and in France after the Opposition questioned how Reliance Defence was signed on as the offset partner by weapons manufacturer Dassault Aviation when the Anil Ambani-owned company had no relevant experience.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas on November 14. The Centre has defended the deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets and opposed public disclosure of the pricing details. The petitions seeking a court-monitored investigation into the Rafale deal were first filed by advocates Manohar Lal Sharma and Vineet Dhanda.
Later, Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker Sanjay Singh filed another petition. Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan also filed a joint petition. The petitioners alleged that the Defence Procurement Procedure was not followed and the relevant clearances for the deal were not obtained.
India signed an agreement with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in fly-away condition as part of the process of upgrading the Indian Air Force’s equipment. The deal is estimated to be worth about Rs 58,000 crore. The Rafale is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation.