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Court-monitored probe into Rafale deal? SC to decide today

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph had reserved the verdict on November 14.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will pronounce its verdict on pleas seeking court-monitored probe into the multi-billion dollar Rafale fighter jet deal with France.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph had reserved the verdict on November 14.

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 along with 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.

The Centre had defended the deal to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets in a ready-to-fly condition while it admitted that there was “no sovereign guarantee from France (government), but there is a letter of comfort…”

The petitioner counsel Prashant Bhushan and former Union Minister Arun Shourie had questioned the circumventing of the procedure for aborting the earlier process for procuring 126 (18 in a ready-to-fly condition and 108 to be manufactured by HAL) fighter jets in favour of procuring 36 aircraft in ready-to-fly condition and unloading HAL as an offset partner.

All the petitioners had broadly assailed the pricing of 36 fighter aircraft and the induction of an offset partner replacing the HAL.

The Centre had defended the deal on the grounds of “urgent requirement” of national security and had justified the scrapping of the earlier deal for 126 aircraft as it was taking long to reach conclusion.

(With inputs from agencies)

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