In a major setback to centre inspite of objections by Attorney General the apex court directed the government to provide details of pricing and cost of fighter planes to it in next 10 days.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices U U Lalit and K M Joseph also directed for providing details on “induction of Indian offset partner” to a batch of PIL petitioners.
“Such of details, which may be considered strategic and confidential, placed before the court, may not be furnished to counsel or parties,” the bench said.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Union government, however, contended, all information cannot be provided as some of them may attract provisions of the Official Secrets Act. He said the information was not shared even in Parliament.
The court then said only those information which can be legitimately be put in the public domain may be given to the petitioners in next 10 days.
Judge allowed Venugopal to file an affidavit detailing the difficulties in disclosing the pricing.
The court passed its order even as advocate Prashant Bhushan sought to argue on a fresh PIL filed on behalf of himself as well as former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shouri.
“Your prayer is for CBI probe. You have to wait,” the bench told him.
The court put the PILs filed advocates M L Sharma and Vineet Dhanda for further hearing on November 14.
The court’s order came after perusing the sealed report related to the decision making process adopted by the Narendra Modi government in the deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in 2016.
The court had on October 10 sought the information in “sealed cover” of the controversial deal, except details of pricing and suitability of the equipments, by October 29 for the court’s “satisfaction”.
The court’s proceedings on Wednesday was keenly watched as the Union government has faced a lot of flak for favouring Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Ltd in determining offset partner of the French company enabling it to garner huge sums.
The main opposition party, Congress had accused the Modi government of huge corruption in helping Anil Ambani’s company, Reliance Defence Ltd, to be offset partner in the deal with Dassault for buying 36 fighter jets. It also accused the government of striking the deal at the higher price and sought its disclosure.
Sinha, Shouri and Bhushan, in their plea, sought a registration of an FIR into the complaint filed by them with the CBI on October 4 and monitoring of the probe by the top court.