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Rafale Case: Shourie questions Reliance role, CJI asks for Air Force's opinion

ANI | Updated: Nov 14, 2018 16:51 IST

New Delhi [India], Nov 14 (ANI): A Bench comprising of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices UU Lalit and KM Joseph are hearing a batch of petitions seeking a probe into the alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal.
After the arguments of one of the petitioner advocate ML Sharma, Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh's counsel and senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, it was former Union Minister Arun Shourie who made his submissions in the case.
Shourie argued to the Supreme Court that the Dassault company with its immense experience could not have chosen Reliance as its partner in the deal.
"Dassault which was established in 1929 could not have given the contract to Reliance that had no experience. The deal helped Dassault tide over its severe financial crisis, so they will support whatever the government will say," he argued.
He further questioned why the government is not disclosing pricing details of the deal. "It's public money why the pricing can't be disclosed?"
Referring to an alleged remark of Goa Chief Minister Monohar Parikkar who was then Defence Minister, Shourie claimed that the Defence ministry was not in the loop.
"The then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said Rafale deal was Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision and he supports it, this shows Defence Ministry wasn't even in the loop. Parrikar had said that 126 Rafale jets cost 90,000 crores which come to about 715 crores per plane. The decision for 36 jets was of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a result of political discussions between him and President of France," Shourie told the top court.
After hearing the arguments of these four counsels, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked senior most law officer of the government Attorney General KK Venugopal if any officer from the Indian Air Force was present in the court to answer the queries on the issue.
"Is there anyone from the office of Indian Air force? After all, we are dealing with the Air Force, we would have liked to ask from the officer of Air Force on the issue," CJI says.
Making his submissions in the case, Attorney General KK Venugopal told the Supreme Court that secrecy was not on the price of aircraft but on weaponry and avionics.
"Price of Rafale with the breakup of weapons and avionics has been shared with the Supreme Court, but the court cannot sit in judicial review on it. It is a matter for experts to decide on what weaponry is to be bought. Pricing details have been given in sealed cover but there are factors like intergovernmental agreement which barred its disclosure," Venugopal submitted to the court.
He also informed the court that he also has not seen the sealed cover and may not be able to assist on price.
Following the arguments of the Attorney General, CJI Gogoi said that any debate on the pricing of the Rafale deal comes only if this court decides that those aspects need to come in the public domain.
CJI Ranjan Gogoi also asked Venugopal whether the earlier price of the Rafale deal disclosed in the public domain upon to which the Venugopal denied saying it wasn't disclosed.
After these exchange, the apex bench rose for the lunch break.
The hearing will continue after the lunch break. (ANI)