Rafale fighter aircraft
Rafale fighter aircraft.Reuters

After the Supreme Court asked the Centre to disclose the price of the Rafale fighter aircraft, 36 of which are being acquired for the Indian Air Force (IAF), the government is likely to file an affidavit expressing its inability to do so, reports TOI.

It is learned that the Centre will mention in the affidavit that if the price is disclosed, the secrecy surrounding the weapons and special modifications which are India-specific will be out in the open and it would be detrimental for the security of the country.

Even the Parliament doesn't know the price of a Rafale aircraft fitted with modifications and weapons requested by India, a source disclosed.

Attorney General KK Venugopal took this stand before Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi-led bench when a petitioner said the government should not have any issue by placing before the court in sealed cover the price of the planes as it had already informed the Parliament about the same.

However, the Parliament was only told about the price of the Rafale without the weapons fit and modifications and not in the custom-made-for-India configuration ordered from French aircraft manufacturer Dassault under an inter-governmental deal between India and France.

The Congress-led Opposition has accused the government of corruption and crony capitalism in the Rs 59,000-crore deal to acquire 36 Rafales at a higher cost per aircraft when the IAF requirement was 126.

The note giving details of the deal was only meant for the eyes of the judges and could not be shared with parties or petitioners and only a copy of it with sensitive and technical details edited out would be handed out to them.

According to information accessed by TOI, India doesn't want that technical details and the type of weapons to be carried by the Rafale leaked lest the information falls into enemy hands and that is the reason that topmost secrecy is being maintained about the deal.

The moment the price is released, enemy nations will know the special weapons and modifications ordered by the IAF keeping in mind the unique operational requirements of guarding the country and will try to counter these, a source close to the govt told TOI.