The Nature of Judicial Power: 36 Rafale Fighter Jets

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The issues arising relate to procurement of 36 Rafale Fighter Jets for the Indian Airforce. It is our considered opinion/view that the extent of permissible judicial review in matters of contracts, procurement, etc. would vary with the subject matter of the contract and there cannot be any uniform standard or depth of judicial review which could be understood as an across the board principle to apply to all cases of award of work or procurement of goods/material. The scrutiny of the challenges before us, therefore, must be made keeping in mind the confines of national security, the subject of the procurement being crucial to the nation’s sovereignty. We do not consider it necessary to dwell further and seek clause-by-clause compliances. It is certainly not the job of this Court to carry out a comparison of the pricing details in matters like the present. We say no more as the material must be kept in a confidential domain. We find no reason for any intervention by this Court on the sensitive issue of purchase of 36 Defence Aircrafts by the Indian Government. Perception of individuals cannot be the basis of a fishing and roving enquiry by this Court, especially in such matters. We, thus, dismiss all the Writ Petitions.”

–  Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, Hon’ble Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Manohar Lal Sharma v. Narendra Damodardas Modi, [Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 225 of 2018].


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