Rafael deal: Apex court seeks, in sealed cover, pricing structure & strategic considerations details


New Delhi, The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to submit in 10 days in a sealed cover, the details of the pricing structure and strategic requirements, in connection with the big-ticket Rafale fighter aircraft deal. Headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, the three-judge bench sought the report from the Union of India and set November 14 for further hearing. Attorney-General K K Venugopal contended that most of the details about Rafale jets, including its prices, would be covered under the Official Secrets Act. He also clarified to the court that it would not be possible for the Union government to share anything with anyone. The apex court also asked the government to give copies of the decision-making process without any strategic or secret details to petitioners and parties who had filed Public Interest Litigations. If the material, the bench ruled, was strategic in nature or involved national security, the government might choose not to reveal it to the petitioners, but will instead have to furnish it to the court in a sealed package. "We ask Centre to give details of the pricing and strategic details of Rafale fighter aircraft in sealed cover in 10 days," CJI Gogoi said. The Supreme Court passed the direction after hearing on a batch of petitions including a joint plea by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, along with lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan, on the jet deal. "There should be a court-monitored Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the Rafale deals," petitioner Prashant Bhushan told the three-judge bench during arguments. Arun Shourie, another of the petitioners in the case, called the court's order a "very, very substantial step forward.' The bench said that if the government feels the pricing of the Rafale jet cannot be shared even in a sealed cover with the court, then it should file an affidavit to that effect.