Modi government was today (Wednesday, Oct 10) spared being served a notice on Rafale deal, but its plea to reject the PIL was dismissed and it will have to furnish details of the decision-making process in the Rafale fighter jet deal with France in a sealed cover to the Supreme Court by October 29.
The top court would hear the matter again on October 31.
The Supreme Court clarified that it does not want information on pricing and technical particulars.
The Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Kuttiyil Mathew Joseph, also made it clear that it was not taking into account the allegations on corruption in the deal made in the petitions.
The Centre opposed the PILs in court and sought that they be dismissed on the ground that they were filed to gain political mileage.
The top court was hearing various petitions seeking directions, including asking the Centre to reveal details of the deal and the comparative prices during the UPA and NDA rule in a sealed cover to the apex court.
Attorney General KK Venugopal told the apex court that the issue in question pertains to national security and such issues cannot be reviewed judicially. He said that it is a politically motivated litigation and should not be entertained.
“This is political petition and not a public interest litigation and is part of bitter fight going on between ruling and opposition party. If notice is issued, it will go to PM etc. Please don’t entertain such petitions,” Venugopal told the Court.
The apex court did not issue notice to the Centre and also did not consider allegations of corruption or question of pricing and technical details, but it sought information from the Centre on the decision-making process in the deal in a sealed cover by October 29 and fixed the next hearing on the PILs for October 31.
The Court said that it would like to be informed of the steps involved in the decision making process for its own satisfaction, and hence will not issue official notice.
The Court passed the order after hearing petitioners ML Sharma and Vineet Dhanda who sought investigation into Rafale deal, besides quashing the agreement in case it is found to involve corruption.
Another petitioner, Tehseen Poonawalla, chose to withdraw his petition.
His plea had sought a direction against the Centre on why the Union Cabinet’s approval was not sought as part of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) before signing the procurement deal with France on September 23, 2016.
Earlier, the top court had adjourned to October 10 the hearing on the plea filed by lawyer ML Sharma seeking a stay on the Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France.
Sharma has claimed in his plea that the inter-government agreement to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets must be quashed as it was an “outcome of corruption” and not ratified by Parliament under Article 253 (Parliament has power to make any law for implementing any inter-government agreement) of the Constitution.
AAP Rajya Sabha lawmaker Sanjay Singh had also moved the apex court through his lawyer, Dheeraj Kumar Singh, by filing a separate petition on the defence deal, The Indian Express reported. The MP has reportedly sought setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the supervision of the apex court to probe the reasons for cancellation of earlier deal entered into by the UPA government for the purchase of 126 fighter jets.