Saturday, November 03, 2018

SC's latest directive on Rafale omnious for Modi

Bad days are staring at the Narendra Modi Government just six months before the scheduled elections to the Lok Sabha. The CBI administration is in tatters, both the top bosses of this premier investigation agency of the country, are fighting in courts, the RBI Governor Dr. Urjit Patel has threatened to resign over the interference by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and now, the apex court of the country in its directive on October 31 has asked the Modi government to submit within ten days to the court the Rafale price and offset partner details.
These are the details which the Modi Government have been avoiding since the controversy started by saying that these are under Official Secrets Act and can not be revealed. But the SC bench heeded by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has expanded their area of probe from the parameters set in their earlier October 10 directive when they said that the Government would have to submit the details regarding decision making only by October 29 and they are not going into the pricing and technical details.
But in a significant turn, the SC bench asked on Wednesday the Government to furnish in sealed cover details of the pricing and its advantages in ten days. This turn around by the bench from its earlier sober position taken on October 10 is very significant in the current volatile political situation. As advised, the Government, mainly the defence ministry submitted all the details relating to the decision making process by October 26 and it is quite likely that after going through those documents, the bench was not satisfied and wanted to probe more including the pricing before arriving at any judgment. The next hearing is on November 14, when the assembly elections process will be already on and the Court's observations during the hearing will be crucial for the Modi Government in general and the Prime Minister personally.
As of now, the Government has taken the position that there is no question of giving the details of the price of Rafale since it is covered under the Official Secrets Act, 1923 and so in the affidavit to be submitted within the next ten days, the government will explain its position on the basis of the secrecy and will elaborate why it is not possible. The learned judges will then examine whether the Government's explanation is sustainable and they will come out with their views on this govt inability at November14 hearing.
03/11/18  Nitya Chakraborty/Kashmir Times