The Supreme Court will hear a batch of petitions including the joint plea filed by former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie along with Prashant Bhushan, into the Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France today.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, which had directed the Centre to provide in a sealed cover the “details of the steps” taken in the decision-making process leading to the deal, has listed as many as four petitions for hearing tomorrow.
The top court’s directions had come before they had filed the petition. The directions were passed on October 10 on the two Public Interest Litigations filed by lawyers ML Sharma and Vineet Dhanda.
Two former union ministers and Mr Bhushan have sought the registration of a complaint into the fighter jet deal between India and France alleging “criminal misconduct” by high public functionaries. They also sought a direction to CBI to investigate the offences mentioned in their complaint in a “time-bound” manner and submit periodic status reports to the top court.
They have claimed that in 2007 tenders were issued by the Ministry of Defence for the purchase of 126 fighter aircraft and it was specified in the Request for Proposal that 18 of these aircraft would be purchased from abroad in a ‘fly-away’ condition. The remaining 108 were to be manufactured in India in the factory of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with a transfer of technology from the foreign vendor.
“However within 15 days of this, the Prime Minister of India and the President of France announced a totally new deal jettisoning the virtually complete 126 aircraft deal and the Prime Minister on behalf of India agreed to purchase only 36 Rafale aircraft in a ‘fly-away’ condition without any transfer of technology and make in India.
“It later turned out that the new deal involved 50 per cent of the value of the contract to be given as ‘offset contracts’ to Indian companies and that the government informally told Dassault and the French government that the bulk of the offset contracts would have to be given to a company of Anil Ambani which had just been set up,” it claimed.