India

Rafale deal: SC order on court-monitored CBI probe likely on Friday

SC on Friday will deliver its verdict on four petitions seeking a court-monitored CBI probe into the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets in a ready-to-fly state from French company Dassault Aviation

NH Web Desk

The Supreme Court on Friday will deliver its verdict on four petitions seeking a court-monitored Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets in a ready-to-fly condition from French company Dassault Aviation.

According to the list of business for Friday released by the Supreme Court registry, the verdict will be delivered by a bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph.

The Centre had defended the deal to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets in a ready-to-fly condition while it admitted that there was "no sovereign guarantee from France (government), but there is a letter of comfort..."

Petitions challenging the deal were filed in the Supreme Court earlier this year by lawyer Prashant Bhushan, former Union ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, and advocates ML Sharma and Vineet Dhanda.

They questioned how PM Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande made the agreement public well over a year before the Cabinet Committee on Security finally approved the deal in September 2016.

The petitioner counsel Prashant Bhushan and former Union Minister Arun Shourie had questioned the circumventing of the procedure for aborting the earlier process for procuring 126 (18 in a ready-to-fly condition and 108 to be manufactured by HAL) fighter jets in favour of procuring 36 aircraft in ready-to-fly condition and unloading HAL as an offset partner.

All the petitioners had broadly assailed the pricing of 36 fighter aircraft and the induction of an offset partner replacing the HAL.

The Centre had defended the deal on the grounds of "urgent requirement" of national security and had justified the scrapping of the earlier deal for 126 aircraft as it was taking long to reach conclusion.

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