The Supreme Court has asked the government to give details by October 29 – in a sealed cover – of the decision-making process on the Rafale fighter jet deal, which is at the centre of a massive political row.
“We are not issuing notice to the government. We make it clear that the court isn’t taking into account arguments made by the petitioner. Their arguments are grossly inadequate,” the top court said, asserting that it would not go into the pricing or suitability of the jets.
“We want to satisfy ourselves on the steps taken in the decision-making. We are not going into the issue of suitability keeping in mind the sensitivity of the issue,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
Petitioner ML Sharma had argued that there was corruption in the Rs 59,000-crore deal for 36 fighters from France’s Dassault Aviation.
The deal was announced in 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then French president Francois Hollande.
The governor’s lawyer called the petition “politically motivated”.
Attorney General KK Venugopal told the court: “National security is involved and the court is being used on the eve of polls to gain politically in the bitter fight between the government and the opposition.”
The political controversy over the Rafale deal escalated sharply after Francois Hollande’s comment in an interview last month that France had no role in the selection of Anil Ambani’s inexperienced Reliance Defence as India offset partner for Rafale-maker Dassault as part of the deal.