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Supreme Court adjourns hearing on PIL to stay Rafale deal to October 10

PTI New Delhi | Updated on September 18, 2018 Published on September 18, 2018

The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned hearing on a PIL seeking a stay on the Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France.

A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Navin Sinha and K M Joseph adjourned the matter till October 10.

Petitioner advocate ML Sharma told the bench that he wants to file some additional documents in the case and therefore the matter should be adjourned.

“You yourself circulated a letter seeking adjournment on the ground of ill health. Now you are saying that you want to file additional documents. We are simply adjourning the matter to October 10,” the bench said.

In his petition, Sharma has alleged discrepancies in the fighter jet deal with France and sought a stay on it.

Sharma has said in his plea that the inter-government agreement to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets must be quashed as it was an "outcome of corruption" and not ratified by Parliament under Article 253 (Parliament has power to make any law for implementing any inter-government agreement) of the Constitution.

The petition has also sought lodging of an FIR and prosecution of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Defence Minister and present Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, business tycoon Anil Ambani and French armament firm Dassault, along with recovery of the amount.

A similar plea was filed in the apex court in March this year seeking an independent probe into the Rafale deal and disclosure of the cost involved in it before Parliament. The plea, filed by Congress leader Tehseen S Poonawalla, had sought issuance of a direction against the Centre on why the Union Cabinet's approval was not sought as part of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) before signing the procurement deal with France on September 23, 2016.

The Rafale deal is a defence agreement signed between the governments of India and France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts in a fly-away condition as part of the upgrading process of the Indian Air Force equipment. The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation.

Indian Air Force had advanced a proposal to buy 126 fighter aircraft in August 2007 and floated a tender. Following this, an invitation was sent to various aviation companies to participate in the bidding process.

Poonawalla had claimed in his plea that the Ministry of Defence had withdrawn the 2007 tender for procurement of 126 fighter planes, while the deal announced for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft was altogether a fresh procurement.

His plea said that in 2012, the deal for 126 fighter aircraft was proposed by the then UPA government, and out of the total of 126, 18 Rafale fighter jets were to be delivered by Dassault Aviation company in a fly-away condition, while the remaining 108 were to be manufactured in India at the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) under a transfer of technology agreement.

Published on September 18, 2018
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