The government, claiming sensitivity of information, stated to the Delhi High Court on 12 November that it can't share any information on the Rs.19000 crore French submarine Scorpene deal with private parties.
The Scorpene scam, which broke in 2005, related to the purchase of submarines from French defense design and manufacturing group, Thales. It was alleged that Rs.500 crore was paid to middlemen to influence the decision makers regarding the purchase of the Scorpene submarine, PTI reported.
Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath heard the submission made by Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, counsel for Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Jain said that a status report received from the investigating agencies of United Kingdom, Canada and Switzerland had the condition that the information supplied by them should not be shared with private parties, PTI reported.
The government response comes in the wake of a request filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan, who represents the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), asking the authorities to provide a copy of the CBI report on the case without the information received from Interpol.
The CBI had taken over the case in 2006, following which CPIL had filed a plea, stating that the CBI had not been proceeding with the investigation. A division bench in the Delhi High Court, comprising Justices T.S. Thakur and Veena Birbal, set a deadline of 2008 for the CBI to file a preliminary enquiry into the allegations of bribery.
The division bench, in 2007, had said, "We would like to cross-check with your investigating officer to know what you've done on the complaints regarding kickbacks in the Scorpene deal. We feel dissatisfied with what you have done so far. If you've tried to shield someone, then we will come down very heavily on you," Outlook had reported in 2008.
The Delhi High Court, on 12 November, after receiving submissions from both the CBI and the government, said, "The report is before us and we will look into it..." according to PTI. It said it would consider the matter further on 24 November.
The CBI had given a clean chit to the deal.
However, the petitioner alleges that the government had knowledge about the "shady deal and involvement of middlemen as pointed out by the CVC and the Ministry of Defence, the contract was finalised for obvious reasons".