- Centre gave Rafale deal details to top court in sealed cover last week
- Arun Jaitley, Nirmala Sitharaman, Attorney General discussed the details
- Top law officer, ministers decided against hiding anything from top court
The centre's decision to hand over a document disclosing financial details of the Rafale aircraft deal to the Supreme Court came after discussions between Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Attorney General KK Venugopal, sources 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, they added.
The Supreme Court had ordered the centre to put its decision-making process in the public domain on November 2, amid allegations by opposition parties that Rafale manufacturer Dassault chose to partner with Anil Ambani's debt-ridden defence company as a condition for bagging the contract. Congress president Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly insinuated that lack of transparency in the deal points at corruption involving central ministers and the industrialist.
Sources said that while Mr Venugopal and the two Union Ministers decided against hiding anything from the top court, they have arranged for an affidavit to be produced in case the judges direct the centre to reveal the pricing to the petitioners. The document will list out various reasons why such an action is not advisable.
A redacted version of the document shared with the petitioners showed that although PM Modi had announced the decision to buy 36 Rafale jets from France on April 10, 2015, the approval of the Defence Acquisition Council -- the decision-making body for military procurements -- was taken only on May 13, 2015. Mr Gandhi cited this alleged anomaly to claim that the Prime Minister had admitted to "theft" before the Supreme Court. "In the affidavit, he (PM Modi) admitted to changes in the contract without asking the Air Force and put Rs 30,000 crore in (Anil) Ambani's pocket. Picture abhi baki hai mere dost (It's not over yet)," the Congress president tweeted.
The Supreme Court will take up the petitions against the Rafale deal today.
Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal.
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