The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its order on pleas seeking court-monitored probe in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph concluded the arguments advanced by various parties which have also sought registration of FIR in connection with the alleged irregularities in the deal.
Earlier in the day, the Centre had defended the secrecy clause related to the pricing of the 36 Rafale fighter jets in the Supreme Court and said it cannot divulge details of the deal.
These matters are for the experts to deal with and “we have been saying that even Parliament has not been told about the complete cost of jets”, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
The top law officer said that the Centre has given in a sealed cover the complete details of the Rafale jets, the weapons to be fitted on the aircraft and other requirements.
The Centre on Monday had submitted to the apex court in a sealed cover, the pricing details of the Rafale jets.
Refusing to divulge details on the pricing aspect, Venugopal said he would not be able to assist the court further on the pricing issue.
“I decided not to peruse it myself as in a case of any leak, my office would be held responsible,” he said.
While the Centre was making a submission on the issue of pricing, the bench, also comprising justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, said any discussion on pricing of the Rafale fighter jets can only take place if the facts on the deal are allowed to come in the public domain.
The top court told the attorney general that without bringing the facts in public domain, there was no question of any debate on the pricing of the planes.
However, the bench clarified to the law officer that any discussion on price will be considered if it thinks that it should come in the public domain.
India signed an agreement with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in a fly-away condition as part of the upgrading process of the Indian Air Force equipment.
The estimated cost of the deal is Rs 58,000 crore. The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation.