A Supreme Court bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday dealt a blow to the Centre’s Narendra Modi government by ordering it to share the pricing for the Rafale jet, agreed as part of the deal signed between India and France.
The Centre has been reluctant to disclose the price for each Rafale jet it has agreed to pay the French aviation company, Dassault, seemingly for the fear of embarrassment. The opposition Congress has accused the government of having agreed to pay three times more price for each Rafale jet than what the UPA government under Manmohan Singh had agreed for.
On Wednesday, the top court was hearing a host of petitions including the one filed by lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie. Aside from seeking the court’s intervention in making the pricing of Rafale jets public, the petition filed by Bhushan, Sinha and Shourie also sought the court’s direction for a CBI probe in the alleged scam into the defence deal with France.
On the request for a CBI probe, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said, “That you will have to wait.” He, according to PTI, added, “Let CBI put its house in order first.”
CJI Gogoi was referring to the unprecedented crisis grappling the federal probe agency after the Centre dismissed its boss Alok Verma and the agency’s number two, Rakesh Asthana, in a midnight coup last week.
Verma was probing the corruption allegations against Asthana, who is believed to be very close to PM Modi and had worked under him as as an IPS officer during the latter’s tenure as Gujarat chief minister. Asthana is accused of having received Rs 2 crore to settle the case of meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
The Centre had also transferred one CBI officer, AK Bassi, who was probing the corruption allegations against Asthana, to Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar islands. Verma, Asthana and Bassi all have moved the Supreme Court against the Centre’s decision to remove them from their current posts.