Rafale deal hearing: Supreme Court reserves judgement on petitions seeking court-monitored prove

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its judgement on petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the Rafale deal. This was after a marathon hearing all through Wednesday, when the court heard from the Attorney General, Additional Defence Secretary petitioners namely Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie and Sajay Singh and senior Air Force officers.

Rafale deal

The bench was being headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph.

The bench had last month asked the government to submit details on the pricing of the Rafale jets. The government had submitted the details on Monday, when the court resumed after the weekend.

Janta Ka Reporter in its three part series last had first exposed the scam in the purchase of Rafale jets from the French company Dassault aviation.  (You can read them here Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3).

Here’s how Wednesday’s proceedings transpired:

  • Three Judge Bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi reserves the Judgment in petitions seeking Court-monitored probe in to Rafale Deal
  • CJI asks, “So you don’t have a sovereign guarantee?” “No we don’t,” concedes AG
  • CJI asks AG about the argument of the petitioner that France has not given sovereign guarantee to the deal. There is no sovereign guarantee, but a letter of comfort by France, replies AG (LiveLaw)
  • Which are the countries that have bought Rafale from Dassault Aviation , CJI Asks. AG responds, “Qatar, Egypt and France.”
  • Addl Defence Secretary responds that it is for the Government to accept the choice made by the Original Equipment Manufacturer of the Offset Partner
  • Justice Joseph asks Addl Defence Scretary as to how country’s interests will be protected if offset partner does not carry out production
  • Why the change in offset guidelines in 2015, asks Justice KM Joseph. Additional Defence secretary says the procedure of Offset partner was amended because of objections raised by Dassault
  • Dessault Aviation is yet to submit details of offset partner to government, says AG
  • The offset partner has to be selected by vendor, AG Venugopal
  • For manufacture, HAL gave a time slot of 2.7 times of what Dassault was taking; that itself was a negative factor, AG KK Venugopal (BarandBench)
  • CJI asks the Air Marshall, which is the latest induction to IAF and also the latest being manufactured in India? Sukhoi 30 the latest induction, responds the Air Marshall (LiveLaw)
  • Air Marshal VR Chaudhari, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshall Khosla, two other Air Marshall reach Supreme Court for Rafale hearing. He is accompanied by a team of other IAF officers (CNNNews18)
  • Any debate on pricing of the Rafale deal comes only if this Court decides those aspects needs to come in public domain
  • Justice K M Joseph asks AG if the base aircraft in old deal and new deal the same AG answers in the affirmative (LIVELAW)
  • CJI asks whether pricing details of earlier deal revealed in public. AG says NO
  • CJI Gogoi asks officials from Indian Air Force to apprise the Court. “Anyone from IAF here ? We need a person from IAF not from defence ministry”
  • Both Shourie and Bhushan are making arguments using points first highlighted by Janta Ka Reporter in our expose a year ago. 
  • Attorney General KK Venugopal objects to certain submissions advanced by Prashant Bhushan in #Rafale case. CJI Gogoi: “You suggested to us the other day we should give everyone a full hearing. We’re doing absolutely that. What can be your objection now?” (News18)
  • The decision was taken by PM Modi without consulting the then Defence Minister Parikkar. This fact is supported by statements of Parikkar: Arun Shourie (LiveLaw)
  • This deal helped Rafale tide over its severe financial crisis, and hence they will support whatever the government says: Arun Shourie (LiveLaw)
  • Arun Shourie also gets chance to argue briefly before #SupremeCourt in #Rafale case. He questions lack of experience of the Indian off set partner to be picked up by #Dassault. Shourie also emphasises it is public money and hence secrecy surrounding #Rafale pricing is curious. (News18)
  • Referring to his complaint to CBI, Bhushan urges Supreme Court to order inquiry into how Reliance was chosen as offset partner
  • Reliance has no competence of executing offset contract: Prashant Bhushan
  • Price that was quoted in original agreement was 155 M Euros,Now it’s 217 M Euros I am not sure what the Govt has given to my lord in sealed cover. They have only informed us that the price we agreed now is the best price
  • The government is hiding behind the secrecy agreement. This is extracted from a book published in 2008 called India’s Foreign Relations: Prashant Bhushan (LiveLaw)
  • Secrecy agreement is supposed to be secret. How does he produce it before the court: Attorney General KK Venugopal
  • Prashant Bhushan shows the documents where the agreement has been modified to the Court (LiveLaw)
  • For the govt to say that they dont know who Offset partner runs totally contrary to the procedure laid down since as per the procedure, the offset partner has to be approved by Raksha Mantri, Bhushan is quoted by Bar and Bench.
  • On offset, Union has taken a stand that they dont know who the offset partner is since it is not time for Dassault to reveal it to them- Bar and Bench quotes Bhushan
  • PM had no authority to make the new deal with lesser number of aircrafts. It was in violation of the procedure. There is a specific authority to vet such defence deals…The delivery has only been delayed and thus the argument on quicker procurement falls flat-Prashant Bhushan quoted by News18
  • Law Ministry had flagged issues of France not providing sovereign guarantee in Rafale deal. Rules of Inter Governmental Agreement under the Defence Procurement Procedure were not followed
  • Deal was changed because Prime Minister Modi wanted to give it to Ambani’s Reliance: Bhushan
  • Bhushan adds that government resorted to inter governmental route. In a conference for Mirage, the senior officers of HAL and Airforce were present in Paris, when Dassault CEO declared 90 % process was over (LiveLaw)
  • Indian govt short circuited the acquisition procedure, says Prashant Bhushan in Supreme Court
  • Sanjay Singh tells the court that notice may be issued to the central government and directing them to provide more documents.

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