The Supreme Court of India has said it has found no evidence of wrongdoing in the Indian government's procurement of 36 Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft from France.
The verdict, which was published on 14 December, followed the Supreme Court's study of the procurement and the submission of a series of petitions raising concerns about the acquisition programme. The court said these petitions raised three main areas of concern: the procurement process, pricing, and the selection of Indian offset partners.
The Supreme Court said in its judgment, "We have studied the material carefully. We have also had the benefit of interacting with senior air force officers who answered court queries in respect of different aspects, including that of the acquisition process and pricing.
"We are satisfied that there is no occasion to really doubt the process, and even if minor deviations have occurred, that would not result in either setting aside the contract or requiring a detailed scrutiny by the court."
The court also dismissed concerns raised in the petitions about the selection of offset partners in the Rafale programme because, it said, such decisions are not taken by the government.
"We do not find any substantial material on record to show that this is a case of commercial favouritism to any party by the Indian government, as the option to choose the IOP [Indian offset partner] does not rest with the Indian government," said the judgment.
The judgment also dismissed requests to launch public-interest litigation cases to be monitored by the court. In its judgment conclusion, the court said, "We find no reason for any intervention by this court on the sensitive issue of purchase of 36 defence aircraft by the Indian government … We, thus, dismiss all the writ petitions."
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