The Supreme Court Wednesday asked the Centre to provide details of the decision making process in the Rafale fighter jet deal with France in a sealed cover but clarified that it does not want information on pricing and technical particulars. The bench, comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, also made it clear that it was not taking into account the allegations on corruption in the deal made in the petitions. The Centre opposed the PILs in court and sought that they be dismissed on the ground that they were filed to gain political mileage. Attorney General K K Venugopal told the apex court that the issue in question pertains to national security and such issues cannot be reviewed judicially. The apex court, however, did not issue notice to the Centre on two PILs filed by two separate lawyers seeking a court monitored probe in the deal. The court sought information from the Centre on the decision making process in the deal in a sealed cover by October 29 and fixed the next hearing on the PILs to October 31.
The top court was hearing various petitions seeking directions, including asking the Centre to reveal details of the deal and the comparative prices during the UPA and NDA rule in a sealed cover to the apex court. Congress leader and RTI activist Tehseen Poonawala withdrew his PIL against the fighter jet deal. His plea had sought a direction against the Centre on why the Union Cabinet's approval was not sought as part of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) before signing the procurement deal with France on September 23, 2016. The Rafale deal is a defence agreement signed between the governments of India and France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts in a fly-away condition as a part of the upgrading process of Indian Air Force equipment. The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation. Indian Air Force had advanced a proposal to buy 126 fighter aircraft in August 2007 and floated a tender. Following this, an invitation was sent to various aviation companies to participate in the bidding process.