Supreme Court observations on Rafale price critical: Congress

New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday said the Supreme Court move to seek more information from the Modi government about the pricing and deemed advantages in the Rafale deal was “extremely critical” and asked what the Centre was hiding. “The Supreme Court has made certain very significant observations in the Rafale matter,” Congress leader Manish Tewari told reporters here.

On Wednesday, the apex court ordered the Centre to submit in a sealed cover the pricing details of the 36 Rafale fighter jets being bought from France under a government-to-government deal. “The court has ostensibly directed that the information in the confidential report submitted by the government in the last hearing should be made public,” he said. He alleged that the government had been repeatedly trying to hide information surrounding the deal. “The Supreme Court has sought to pierce the wheel of secrecy,” he said, adding that the top court also observed that the details with regard to Indian Offset partner need to be provided to the counsels for petitioners and all those petitioners appearing in person.

The Congress leader’s remarks came after the Supreme Court sought more information from the government on the Rafale combat jet deal, including its pricing and deemed advantages. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices U.U. Lalit and K.M. Joseph directed the government to share with the petitioners the details that it has furnished before the court, relating to the decision-making process leading to the purchase of the 36 Rafale jets in a fly-away condition. The court also asked the government to share as far as possible the selection process for the Indian offset partner in the defence deal with the petitioners and public.

Tewari said: “On pricing, which is the most significant part of the deal, the court has said that the government needs to file an affidavit to claim confidentiality. “This is an extremely critical observation by the Supreme Court.” He said that there are 18 articles in the Indo-French defence agreement. “Would the Prime Minister, Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) and Defence Minister (Nirmala Sitharaman) enlighten the nation which one of the 18 articles highlights secrecy?”

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