MeraNews Network, New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the multi-billion dollar deal between India and France to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets. A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said that the SC finds no irregularities in the NDA government's decision-making process in the purchase of the jets from Dassault Aviation under an Indo-French inter-governmental agreement.
The bench said that it is not the SC's job to get into the pricing of the deal and that it has found no material to show commercial favouritism in the deal and no reason for interference in the choice of offset partner and perception of individuals can't be the basis for roving inquiry in sensitive issue of defence procurement. Calling the SC decision wrong, senior advocate and one of the petitioners Prashant Bhushan said that they will decide if a review petition has to be filed.
The Indian government signed an agreement with France in 2015 to purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in fly-away condition as part of the upgrading process of Indian Air Force. The estimated cost of the deal is believed to be Rs 58,000 crore. French aerospace company Dassault Aviation manufactures the Rafale jet, which is a twin-engine Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).
The opposition had raised a huge stink after Dassault announced that Anil Ambani's Reliance Group will be an offset partner and formed a joint venture for the contract. The Congress has demanded that the NDA government declare the pricing of the deal, which the latter reduced citing a secrecy clause in regards to defence purchases, which led to them crying foul play and corporate favouritism in the deal.