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India’s top court gave government 10 days to disclose the details of $8.7-billion military jet deal with France

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New Delhi. India’s top court on Wednesday gave the government 10 days to disclose the details of an $8.7-billion military jet deal with France’s Dassault Aviation to former ministers and an activist who say the information should be in the public domain.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale planes has become a major political controversy because of the escalating price and a decision to pick billionaire Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as a domestic partner.

Reliance, which has no aeronautical expertise, was chosen instead of the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics, which has a long history of making planes.

The Supreme Court ruled that if the material was strategic in nature or involved national security, the government might choose not to reveal it to the petitioners, but will instead have to furnish it to the court in a sealed package.

“We ask the centre to give details of the pricing and strategic details of Rafale fighter aircraft in sealed cover in 10 days,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, referring to the government as reported by Reuters.

The ruling came in a hearing on petitions including a joint plea by former government ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, along with lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan, on the jet deal.

The Supreme Court also asked the government to give copies of the decision-making process to the petitioners.

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