Update at 3:20 pm: Supreme Court reserves order
Update at 2:48 pm: "IAF has been writing to us that it will be difficult for them to defend our country due to the shortage of aircraft, we have fallen behind a lot", Attorney General KK Venugopal concludes his arguments.
Update at 2:08 pm:
Chief Justice: Which are the countries flying Rafale
IAF- France, Egypt and Qatar since 2014
Attorney General: Ee had exercise with France on Rafale - In 2010 in France and 2014 in India
Update at 2:04 pm: CJI asking them about other aircraft that the Air Force is using right now - specifically those manufactured in India. CJI asking IAF officials about the generations these aircrafts belong to. Air Chief Marshall says “3.5-4th generation”
Update at 2:03 pm: "They will be able to answer Your Lordships queries", AG Venugopal.
Update at 2:03 pm: Air Marshal VR Chaudhari, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshall Khosla, two other Air Marshall’s in court.
Update at 2:03 pm: Hearing resumes
Update at 12:21 pm: Attorney General:
Pricing of add-on weapons and avionics in Rafale can’t be revealed. The Rafale bare bones cost per aircraft was 670 crores. Cost disclosed in the parliament was a basic cost. Cannot disclose the price of add-on weapons because we don’t want our adversaries to know. Our adversaries might take advantage of this information. Due to respect for the court, we provided the details to you in a sealed envelope but this is not a matter for judicial review. This is a matter for experts to decide what weaponry to buy. Not a matter for judicial review.
CJI and justice KM Joseph in the discussion:
CJI - Any kind of discussion on the price will happen only if we allow the details to come into the public.
Attorney General: He himself has not seen the sealed cover report. He will not be able to assist the court on the issue of pricing.
Update at 12:50 pm: The Centre has told the Supreme Court to let the experts review the deal on Rafale fighter jets. Is the court competent to judicially review this (Rafale deal)? It is for excerpts to decide on weaponry. I myself didn't see the sealed cover. We are making efforts to replace several aged aircrafts," Attorney General Venugopal told the court.
Update at 11:58 am: Arun Shourie:
Why the technical specifications of the fighter jets are available in the public domain but not the price details? The government has previously disclosed prices of purchases the govt was making which were being tested for nuclear capabilities.
Arun Shourie questions the experience of reliance - says it should not have been chosen by dassault. They have no experience. Dassault is in deep financial trouble, which is why they are toeing the government’s line. The actual prices of the Rafale jets is different from the prices disclosed in the parliament.
In the parliament, it was revealed that each Rafale was of 670 crore but as revealed by dassault, it was 1660 crore. The previous Defence Minister Parrikar said that Rafale was a result of a “political discussion” between the PM and the French president
Update at 11:20 am: Attorney General Venugopal now making submissions on the history of the Rafale deal:
Parliament has not been given the complete cost. The price was not of loaded aircraft. Secrecy is on weapon and avionics. If it is disclosed our adversaries will benefit. If we have to disclose the loaded aircraft it can't be done without the consent of France. The details of the agreement can't be revealed under RTI. Air Force feels our adversaries will take benefit. This matter is for excerpts to decide on weaponary. I myself didn't see the sealed cover. We are just making efforts to replace several aged aircrafts.
Update at 11:04 am: Prashant Bhushan is making his submissions:
Law ministry had flagged two serious issues. They’d said that the French govt was not providing a sovereign guarantee. 3 issues were flagged, procedure, offset and price. What they have not disclosed is that under DDP there are only 3 conditions where you can avoid going on the tender. No sovereign guarantee from the French government in the deal. Can this be considered as an intergovernmental agreement? Government short-circuited the tender process to acquire the Rafale jets. On March 23, 2017, there was a press conference in Dassault headquarters including senior officials of the MoD present. In the press conference, the Dassault chairman said that the price negotiation is 90% complete and they plan on finalising the deal very soon and looking forward to working with HAL. On April 8 the foreign secretary addressed the media. He is asking so you expect the deal to be concluded? He said yes. 2 days later on April 10, a joint statement was issued saying only 36 fighter jets will be purchased in a ready to fly conditions and a new offset clause kicked in. Nobody knew of change of deal. It's suddenly changed from 126 to 36. From make in India to offset and offset to be given to Ambani and Reliance.That company had no experience or credibility whatsoever.
Update at 10:48 am: AAP leader Sanjay Singh's counsel now making his submissions. :
GOI has disclosed the price of the deal twice in Parliament. AG can't say that price will not be disclosed. They've not mentioned dates in the document specifying if all steps were followed for the new deal. The government is silent on the procedure followed. The first time the matter reaches Defence acquisition council(DAC) is after the announcement of the deal. Earlier, the deal was assessed in 2001 by DAC itself and after all approval, what was the reason for the change of stand that no of aircraft were reduced from 126 to 36?
Update at 10:41 am: Vineet Dhanda (another petitioner) says a detailed reply is required by the government. He says that Vineet Dhanda says the statement was made by the PM in 2015 and the deal was not finalised until 2016. How did the PM make the statement before the deal was finalised?
Update at 10:38 am: ML Sharma begins arguments. ML Sharma argues that the Rafale deal has become a constitutional matter. It’s not merely a contractual matter anymore. ML Sharma says serious fraud on part of the government.
Update at 10:37 am: Rafale hearing begins
Update at 10:34 am: Prashant Bhushan, ML Sharma and Arun Shourie arrives for the hearing
Update at 10:34 am: Bench assembles
Supreme Court Wednesday commenced its crucial hearing on pleas seeking a court-monitored probe into the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph will hold a crucial hearing in the case during which the petitioners, who have sought a court-monitored investigation into the deal, will also make submissions.
On Monday, the Centre handed over a 14-page document to the Supreme Court came after discussions between Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Attorney General KK Venugopal, reports said.
The document -- provided to a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in a sealed cover -- has the approval of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The petitioners are likely to respond to the contents of the documents in which it has been stated by the government that the deal for 36 Rafale jets were negotiated on "better terms" and the Defence Procurement Procedure laid out in 2013 were "completely followed".