#RafaleDeal: SC verdict on court-monitored probe due for Friday
The Supreme Court is all set to pronounce its verdict on a batch of pleas demanding a court-monitored CBI probe into the multi-billion dollar Rafale deal on Friday. Earlier, on November 14, an SC bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi had reserved its verdict on whether to sanction the probe or not. Here are the details.
The Rafale deal involves the sale of 36 Rafale jets
For those unaware, the Rafale deal involves the sale of 36 Rafale jets to India as part of the Indian Air Force's drive to modernize and upgrade equipment. Rafale jets are twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French company Dassault.
Backstory: A brief outline of the controversy surrounding the deal
There are two primary points of contention. The first one is pricing: the Opposition claims that price of each Rafale jet under the deal penned by the Modi government has risen to Rs. 1,670cr from Rs. 526cr under the previous deal that was being negotiated by the UPA government. The second one is choice of offset partner: it has been alleged that Anil Ambani's Reliance Group was unduly favored as Dassault's partner for the joint venture.
An anti-corruption NGO has also alleged corruption in the deal
Recently, A French anti-corruption NGO, Sherpa, filed a complaint with the office of the French National Financial Prosecutor against the French government and Dassault Aviation, alleging "potential acts of corruption, granting of undue advantages, influence peddling, complicity of these offenses and money laundering" in the Rafale deal with India.
Why had the petitioners demanded a court monitored probe?
Given the controversy, the petitioners had demanded a court-monitored probe on four grounds. First, a lack of transparency over pricing of the jets. Second, the choice of Reliance Group as an offset partner for the deal. Third, allegations that the Modi government had flouted due process while penning the deal. Fourth, the lack of a sovereign guarantee from France about fulfilling the deal.
Who are the petitioners demanding a court-monitored probe?
The petitioners in the case are advocates M L Sharma and Vineet Dhanda, AAP leader Sanjay Singh, former Union ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
What has been the Centre's response to the allegations?
Over the course of court hearings, the Centre has denied most of the aforementioned allegations. On the issue of pricing, the government had refused to make details public owing to a secrecy clause with France, and owing to the possibility of India's enemies gaining knowledge about India-specific enhancements of the Rafale jets. The government has also claimed that it followed due procedure.