The Supreme Court will hear a fresh PIL against the Rafale deal between India and France on Wednesday.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph Monday said it will hear the PIL filed by lawyer Vineet Dhanda, who is seeking a direction to the Centre to reveal details of the deal and the comparative prices during the UPA and NDA rule in a sealed cover to the apex court.
The petition also sought information about the contract given to Reliance by Dassault.
The petition terms the allegations against the deal "frivolous", and states that "critics in the opposition parties have adopted a very ignominious and profligate way even to criticise the Prime Minister". Dhanda says in his petition that this sort of criticism will send a "wrong signal about India to the world", and hence it was necessary to clear the air regarding the deal.
"...due to the above frivolous allegations the people in the whole world will not take a good impression. In future also the foreign governments will hesitate in indulging into even healthy agreement with the Government of India. In order to give full stop to denigrating statements, the agreement entered into between the Government of India and the Dassault Aviation is required to be known atleast by this Hon’ble Court. Such a information on behalf of the Union of India can be furnished before this Hon’ble Court in a closed envelop so that only the Hon’ble Supreme Court can read it" , states the petition.
It is also stated in the petition that "Fundamental Rights under Article 19 of the Constitution of India regarding Freedom of Speech has been misused in criticising the Prime Minister of India is misuse of Freedom of Speech"(sic)
Advocate M L Sharma's plea, filed earlier, alleging discrepancies in the fighter jet deal with France and seeking a stay on it will also come up for hearing on October 10.
Sharma claimed 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.
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 the deal before Parliament.
The plea, filed by Congress leader Tehseen S Poonawalla, had sought 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.
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 a part of the upgrading process of 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.