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Is a probe required in Rafale jets deal? Supreme Court to decide on Friday

The Centre has defended the multi-billion deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets and opposed public disclosure of the pricing details.

Is a probe required in Rafale jets deal? Supreme Court to decide on Friday
Pic Courtesy: dassault-aviation.com

The Supreme Court is slated to decide on Friday whether an investigation in required into the Rafale fighter jets deal between India and France. The top court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, is expected to take a decision on petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the procurement of 36 fighter jets from France.

The Centre has defended the multi-billion deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets and opposed public disclosure of the pricing details. Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government has, however, told the court that no "sovereign guarantee" was given by the French government to back the deal.

The Supreme Court had on November 14 reserved its verdict on four petitions seeking the court-monitored probe. Advocate M L Sharma was the first petitioner in the case. Later, another lawyer Vineet Dhanda had moved the apex court with the plea for court-monitored probe into the deal.

AAP leader Sanjay Singh has also filed a petition against the fighter jet deal. After the three petitions were filed, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie alongwith activist advocate Prashant Bhushan had moved the apex court with a plea for a direction to the CBI to register FIR for alleged irregularities in the deal.

On behalf of the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal has already submitted the pricing details of the deal to the court in a sealed cover as per the directions of the bench. The government, however, refused to make it public, citing secrecy clause.

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 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.