New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to provide within 10 days the pricing details of Rafale fighter jets in a sealed cover.
The three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also asked Narendra Modi-government to provide strategic details of the planes.
“The court would like to be apprised of the details with regard to pricing and cost particularly the advantages thereof, if any, which again will be submitted to the court in a sealed cover,” the top court said.
Attorney General KK Venugopal told the court that it would not be possible for the government to provide pricing details as this information had not been provided to Parliament either.
“The purchase of the 36 Rafale fighter jets concerned the national security. It was difficult for the government to share pricing details with the court,” Venugopal said.
The court, however, clarified that it was only seeking this information “for the purpose of satisfying ourselves”.
Last week, the government filed in the court details of the decision-making process for the purchase of Rafale jets from France’s Dassault Aviation. The details were submitted to court’s Secretary General in a sealed cover.
On Wednesday, the court told Venugopal that it wanted the government to share the details of the decision-making process with the petitioners too who had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the matter.
“We are of the view that the information conveyed upon in the report, which can be legitimately be brought into the public domain, be made available to the petitioners. Along with the said facts, further details that could legitimately come in the public domain with respect to the induction of the Indian offset partner, if any, be also furnished to the lead counsel of the parties,” the bench ordered.
It, however, said that “strategic and confidential details may at this stage be placed before the court and may not be furnished to the petitioners”.
Referring to the pricing of Rafale fighter jets that had been quoted at different points of time, PIL petitioner advocate ML Sharma had alleged that the price being paid by India was “quite high”.
Last week, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman reiterated that the per unit cost of Rafale jets could not be shared with Parliament due to a secrecy clause.