Rafale deal: SC admits petition naming Modi as respondent in CBI probe

The SC admitted a petition by Manohar Sharma who has argued that allegations of corruption in the Rafale deal warranted a CBI probe against Modi in a personal capacity and not as a Prime Minister

Rafale deal: SC admits petition naming Modi as respondent in CBI probe

Umakant Lakhera

Supreme Court has admitted a petition, which names Narendra Modi as a private individual as one of the four respondents in the Rs 60,000 crore Rafale deal. The petition, filed by lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma on October 10, was on Wednesday clubbed with other three other petitions, all demanding a CBI probe into the controversial 36-fighter jet deal.

In his petition, listed as 225-2018, Sharma has argued that allegations of corruption in the deal with France warranted a CBI probe against Modi in a personal capacity, and not as a Prime Minister. Former Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar, businessman Anil Ambani and France’s Dassault Aviation have been named as other three respondents in the petition.

A notice to the effect has been issued by the top court to the government.

“It must be first decided if allegations of corruption against Modi amount to any cognisable offence. If they do, then case against Modi and others must proceed,” said Sharma.

The court noted that the government, in accordance with its October 10 order, had placed before it in a sealed envelope the decision-making process that went behind in choosing Reliance Defence as Dassault’s offset partner

The other petitons in the matter have been filed by former union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie.

During the hearing, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who is hearing the petitions, asked for the pricing details of the deal from the government within 10 days. The deal has come under a scanner owing to allegations of nepotism and price inflation, all allegedly to benefit Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence.

Representing the government, Attorney General KK Venugopal refused to divulge the pricing details, saying the information was classified and hadn’t been revealed even in Parliament.

"If pricing is something exclusive and you are not sharing it with us, please file an affidavit and say so," retorted Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

The court noted that the government, in accordance with its October 10 order, had placed before it in a sealed envelope the decision-making process that went behind in choosing Reliance Defence as Dassault’s offset partner.

The court, however, took a critical view of the request for a CBI probe into the deal, stating that the investigation agency needed to put its house in order first. The next hearing has been scheduled for November 14.

This story was edited at 9.55 am to include a few changes

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Published: 1 Nov 2018, 9:00 AM