Intervening in the row of the controversial Rafale deal made by Modi-led NDA government with French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, the Supreme Court has asked for details of how the decision making process in the Rafale deal with France was made.
The original idea of Rafale deal made by former UPA government was to buy 126 Rafale jets from Dassault – of which, 18 were to be bought off the shelf from France, and other 108 were to be assembled in India by the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited or HAL. However, the NDA government shrugged off the idea by saying it to be too expensive and decided to buy off “ready-to-fly” fighters instead of getting the technology from Dassault and make it in India. While the staggering amount of Rs 58000 crores came with a lot of hiccups, the deal was finalised by both governments.
Back in September 2016, India and France signed an inter-governmental agreement called “Rafale deal”, under which, India bought 36 Dassault Rafale twin-engine jet fighters from Dassault Aviation. However, the Congress which ran the UPA government claimed that the cost of each Rafale jet was three times more than what the previous UPA had negotiated with France in 2012; and allegations over transparency by the government and unfair selection of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Limited as French firm’s Indian partner raised.
As the controversial row continues, the Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the government to present details about how the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation was made. These details are to be presented by October 29, but, the SC bench clarified that the court was seeking this information only to satisfy itself, without considering the averments made in the petitions – and that cases with political mileage and little public interest “cannot be reviewed judicially”.