Dassault Aviation’s Rafale fighter jets sit on an assembly line in Merignac, southwestern France

In a response to an RTI query, the CAG said: “Audit Report is under preparation. Therefore, no information can be provided in this stage.”

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has not yet completed its audit report regarding purchase of Rafale aircraft, according to its response to an RTI query this week. This erodes the basis of the Supreme Court’s December 2018 judgement on the Rafale case, according to RTI activists.

On December 14, the Supreme Court refused to embark on a judicial review into the deal for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets. One paragraph of its judgement, however, caused considerable controversy. The verdict said, “The pricing details have, however, been shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), and the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Only a redacted portion of the report was placed before Parliament and is in the public domain.”

The Centre petitioned for a correction of the statement, saying that the apex court had “misinterpreted” its submission. It said that while the government had already shared pricing details with the CAG, the CAG’s report “is examined” by the PAC, referring to the procedure which would be followed as and when the CAG report is ready.

In the wake of the controversy, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information co-convener Anjali Bhardwaj filed an RTI request to the CAG asking about the dates on which its report regarding purchase of Rafale aircraft was finalised, submitted to the government, and tabled in Parliament.

In a response dated January 21, the CAG replied: “Audit Report is under preparation. Therefore, no information can be provided in this stage.”

An RTI query to the Lok Sabha regarding the dates on which the CAG report was tabled in Parliament and examined by PAC was also transferred by the Lok Sabha Secretariat to the CAG, as the relevant public authority.

“This RTI response is an official verification by the CAG that no report has been prepared till date. The report and that it was placed before PAC and Parliament was partly the basis of the SC’s judgement,” said Ms. Bhardwaj, making a case for a review of the verdict itself. “The government has requested corrections to a fact that the judgement relied upon.”

The Centre’s petition to correct the statement regarding the CAG report in the Supreme Court verdict is still pending. A review petition filed against the verdict itself is also pending.