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SC to hear pleas challenging Rafale jets acquisition today

Among the petitions to be heard is one jointly filed by former union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear, on November 14, petitions challenging the decision-making process involved in the proposed acquisition of 36 Rafale jets from French manufacturer, Dassault.

Among the petitions to be heard is one jointly filed by former union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie.

The government in a note submitted to the court and later shared with petitioners, said the Defence Procurement Procedure-2013 was ‘completely followed’ in the 36 Rafale aircraft deal signed in September 2016.

Further, the government said in the note that it had no information about the induction of any Indian offset partner by Dassault. The Bench will hear the petitioners’ response to the note. The petition filed by Mr. Sinha, Mr. Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan has sought a CBI probe into the deal.

A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had in the last hearing on October 31 asked the government to confidentially share the price details and strategic or other confidential information with the court on the deal.

The joint petition filed by Mr. Sinha and Mr. Shourie along with advocate Prashant Bhushan has sought a CBI probe into the deal. Other petitioners like advocates M.L. Sharma and Vineet Dhanda have urged for a court-monitored SIT investigation.

The petitions allege that an earlier deal with Dassault involved the purchase of 126 aircraft of which 108 were to be made in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). However, in April 2015, the government announced the deal to buy just 36 aircraft off the shelf. The petitioners alleged that HAL was removed from the deal and a “novice company,Reliance Defence, came in picture of this highly sensitive defence deal involving Rs. 59,000 crore without having any kind of experience and expertise in making of fighter jets”.

Chief Justice Gogoi has already noted that the court would not go into the "suitability" of theRafale fighter jets or its "utility to the Indian Air Force".

"What has been questioned is the bona fide of the decision-making process and the price/cost of the equipment (fighter jets)," the Chief Justice explained the ambit of the judicial review in the case.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 10:16:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-to-hear-pleas-challenging-rafale-jets-acquisition-on-november-14/article25487691.ece

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