Today the Supreme Court has asked the Government to submit the details of the pricing and selection of Anil Ambani’s defense firm . The decision of the court came on the wake of the petitions filed by former ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha questioning the deal between India and France. The decision of the court has put the government in real fix and they are given only a short time of ten days to submit the details. The government already informed the court that they want to maintain a secrecy regarding the deal but the court suggested them to submit it in a sealed cover. This decision has come as a major set back for the government . They were all through maintaining the stand that the disclosure of the details will threaten the security of the country.
The government argued that pricing was not revealed in parliament and the earlier government had also not disclosed details of a previous deal. But the court wanted it in an affidavit. Here the government will be in a fix as they had already revealed some wrong pricing to keep the opposition’s mouth shut. The court’s decision is a very substantial move forward to bring out the transparency in this controversy. Government can of course hide the technical details due to security reasons but not the pricing of the deal. Petitions before the court call for an investigation into the Rs. 59,000 crore deal for 36 fighters from Dassault, announced in 2016 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talks in Paris with then French president Francois Hollande.
The opposition had already accused the government of favouring Anil Ambani but the industrialist had denied the charges. The French Government had said contradictory statements about the deal and that intensified the doubt about the credibility of the deal. The previous Congress-led UPA government had negotiated with Dassault for 126 Rafale jets under which 18 jets were to be supplied in a fly-away condition and 108 were to be manufactured in India along with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). However, the UPA could not seal the deal. In the deal negotiated by the new government, Anil Ambani’s firm became Dassault’s offset partner with no experience in the field. As part of the offset clause, Dassault has to ensure that business worth at least half the money – Rs. 30,000 – is generated in India. Now it’s the turn of the government to make things crystal clear to the court and to come out of this controversy . Of course not other option out for them.