On Wednesday, 31 October, the Supreme Court of India passed an order that could prove extremely significant to the Rafale controversy. Weeks after asking the government to submit details of the procedure by which the final deal was arrived at, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi now asked the government to also submit pricing and strategic details in a sealed cover within ten days.

Arun Shourie, who filed a petition along with former NDA minister Yashwant Sinha and senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, was surprised and delighted with this direction from the apex court. “The Supreme Court’s decision is far-reaching, I didn’t expect that they’d go this far... From our point of view, it’s a wonderful order,” he said.

Shourie’s petition is one of two being heard by the CJI and Justices UU Lalit and KM Joseph; the other has been filed by advocate ML Sharma. The judges also directed the government to provide the petitioners and their lawyers with copies of the documents already provided to the court.

Attorney-General KK Venugopal objected to these directions, arguing that this information was covered under the Official Secrets Act. CJI Gogoi responded that if this was the government’s view, then they needed to file an affidavit asserting that. Shourie believes such a move would be “ill-advised” since government officials have previously made statements about the price of the deal multiple times.