Government submits affidavit on Rafale deal in SC, says due procurement procedure followed

New Delhi: The government on Monday submitted an affidavit in connection with the Rafale fighter jets deal in the Supreme Court. According to news agency ANI, the government said in the affidavit that due process was followed in the procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft from France.

“Procurement process as laid down in the Defence Procurement Procedure, 2013 was followed in procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft,” said the government in its affidavit.

The government has also said that it had no role in choosing the offset partners, pointing that as per norms, a foreign company is entitled to choose the offset partners as per its requirement.

According to the affidavit, the Cabinet Committee on Security gave its approval on August 24, 2016, following which the deal between India and France was finalised on September 23, 2016.

The move by the government was compelled as the Supreme Court, in October, directed the Centre to submit price and other details pertaining to the deal in a sealed envelope.

Clarifying that it doesn’t want technical details pertaining to the Rafale deal, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to share information which can be brought in the public domain with the petitioners. Details considered “strategic and confidential” can be held back, added the top court.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices UU Lalit and KM Joseph, was listening to two PILs filed lawyers Manohar Lal Sharma and Vineet Dhanda on India’s deal with France to buy the fighter jets.

The bench said that details, including the steps in the decision-making process for the procurement of jets, which could “legitimately” be brought into public domain, be made available to the parties who have filed petitions before it in the matter.

“If pricing is something exclusive and you are not sharing it with us, please file an affidavit and say so,” the top court bench had said.

“At this stage, we would not like to record any finding or views with regard to the contents of the said report. Rather, we are of the opinion that such of the core information conveyed to the court in the aforesaid confidential report which can legitimately be brought into the public domain be made available to the counsels for the petitioners in all the cases, as well as, the petitioners-in-person,” the bench had further said.

India signed an agreement with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in a fly-away condition as part of the upgrading process of the Indian Air Force equipment.

The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation.

The Congress party has maintained that the Rafale deal was a scam, with party president Rahul Gandhi alleging direct involvement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the deal.

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