Rafale fighter jets case: India's Supreme Court will consider fresh evidence against Narendra Modi government

Rafale fighter jets case: India's Supreme Court will consider fresh evidence against Narendra Modi government
A Rafale fighter aircraft seen during rehearsals for fly-past ahead of the 12th edition of AERO India 2019, at Yelahanka Air Base, in Bengaluru.Photo/Shailendra Bhojak) (
  • India's Supreme Court will consider fresh evidence to be produced by petitioners.
  • Judges turn down the incumbent government's appeal against the sourcing of the evidence.
  • Government had contended that the new evidence may not be admissible because the documents were 'privileged'.

India's most recent corruption scandal involving the Narendra Modi government's agreement to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from French company Dassault has seen a fresh twist. The country's top court will consider fresh evidence brought in by the petitioners against the government.

The government's appeal that the documents to be presented were 'privileged', and crucial to national security, and, therefore, inadmissible as evidence, has been unanimously turned down by the bench of judges, including the Chief Justice of India.

A Indian daily alleged, citing classified documents, that the Modi administration gave unprecedented waivers to the French company escalating the cost of the deal. The series of reports were taken up by the petitioners in the case for seeking a review of the earlier judgement that was initially ruled in favour of the government.

So far, even the federal auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, had also given the government a clean chit in the Rafale deal.

The latest Supreme Court order to consider the fresh evidence has come a day before polling begins in the 2019 general elections where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a second term. His rivals are likely to turn up the heat on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the eve of the polling to tilt the scales in their favour.

The Rafale deal

In April 2015, the Indian government announced that it will buy 36 Rafale fighter jets off-the-shelf, scaling back from an earlier agreement, struck by the previous government, to buy a total of 126 jets, of which 18 would be off-the-shelf.

Rivals have accused the Modi government of reworking the deal at higher cost to the taxpayer, of about ₹58,000 crore, and adding clauses that would benefit a friendly industrialist, Anil Ambani, whose company Reliance Defence had been picked as Dassault's Indian partner.

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