NEW DELHI, Oct 10 - As the political row over the Rafale jet contract raged, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Modi government to provide to it details of the steps taken in the decision making process that led to the deal with France.
Seeking the details in a sealed cover by October 29, the apex court at the same time made it clear that it does not want information on pricing and technical parameters relating to the fighter aircraft.
Terming the submissions made in two Public Interest Litigations (PIL) as “grossly inadequate”, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also said the court was not issuing notice to the Centre on them but wanted to satisfy itself about the legitimacy of the decision making process.
The Centre sought dismissal of the PILs, terming them “political interest petitions”.
The direction by the apex court came even as the Congress accused the Modi government of “manipulating” the process of the Rafale agreement by “punishing” bureaucrats who raised objections to the deal and rewarding “obliging officials”.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi also raised questions on Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s France visit, alleging that work has begun to justify the prime minister’s decision to buy the Rafale aircraft from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation.
He took to Twitter to say while the Supreme Court has asked for the details of the Rafale decision-making process, the decision to buy the jets was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gandhi alleged that processes to justify Modi’s decision are being invented.
“The Supreme Court has asked for the RAFALE decision making process. It’s quite simple really...
“The PM decided. The processes to justify his decision are yet to be invented. But work has begun.
“Ps. In this connection, Raksha Mantri is leaving for France tonight,” he said.
Sitharaman is headed to France on a three-day visit starting tomorrow that comes in the backdrop of a huge controversy over the purchase of 36 Rafale jets.
At a public meeting in Bikaner in poll-bound Rajasthan, Gandhi targeted Modi over “corruption” in the Rafale deal repeating the charge that Anil Ambani’s Reliance group benefited from a related offset contract. – PTI