Rafale deal
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (2nd L) and his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar (R) shake hands as they exchange intergovernmental agreements for the purchase of 36 Rafale jet fighters at a joint press conference between Prime Minister Narendra Modi (2nd R) and French President Francois Hollande (L) in New Delhi on January 25, 2016.  AFP PHOTO / Prakash SINGH / AFP / PRAKASH SINGHPRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images [Representational Image]

The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce on Friday its verdict on four petitions seeking court-monitored probe into the deal for acquiring 36 Rafale fighter jets in a ready-to-fly condition from French company Dassault Aviation.

The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph had reserved the verdict on November 14.

The Centre had defended the deal to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets in a ready-to-fly condition while it admitted that there was "no sovereign guarantee from France (government), but there is a letter of comfort..."

The petitioner counsel Prashant Bhushan and former Union Minister Arun Shourie had questioned the circumventing of the procedure for aborting the earlier process for procuring 126 (18 in a ready-to-fly condition and 108 to be manufactured by HAL) fighter jets in favour of procuring 36 aircraft in ready-to-fly condition and unloading HAL as an offset partner.

The four petitions seeking probe into the deal were filed by Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie, former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, advocates M.L.Sharma and Vineet Dhanda, and AAP lawmaker in Parliament Sanjay Singh.

All the petitioners had broadly assailed the pricing of 36 fighter aircraft and the induction of an offset partner replacing the HAL.

The Centre had defended the deal on the grounds of "urgent requirement" of national security and had justified the scrapping of the earlier deal for 126 aircraft as it was taking longer to reach conclusion.