Supreme Court rejects PIL pleas for Rafale deal probe

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to embark on a “fishing enquiry” into the deal to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets merely on the basis of public interest litigation (PIL) petitions spurred by a media interview of former French President Francois Hollande and reports of favouritism shown by the Narendra Modi government. Mr. Hollande was reported to have said the French government had no option in the choice of an Indian Offset Partner (IOP). It had to agree to take on board a company suggested by the Indian government. The petitioners had alleged that the government wanted Reliance Defence, a “novice” company, as the IOP in the multi-crore deal. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, in a 29-page verdict, junked such notions of “commercial favouritism” on the part of the government. Mr. Modi had been himself arraigned as a respondent in one of the four petitions. The court concluded that the government had no role in the choice of an IOP. The option to choose an IOP rests fully with French manufacturer Dassault Aviation under the Defence Procurement Procedure, it said.

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