Rafale Deal: Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie Move SC Seeking Review
Rafale Deal: Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie Move SC Seeking Review
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

Rafale Deal: Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie Move SC Seeking Review

Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan Wednesday, 2 January moved the Supreme Court, seeking review of its December 14 verdict dismissing all PILs alleging irregularities in the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France.

In their review plea, they alleged that the judgment "relied upon patently incorrect claims made by the government in an unsigned note given in a sealed cover" to the apex court.

They have also sought that the plea be heard in an open court.

Snapshotclose

  • The SC dismissed all petitions against the Rafale deal, rejected pleas for CBI or SIT probe
  • CJI Ranjan Gogoi-led bench found no cause to interfere with the deal, said procedure was ‘broadly’ followed
  • The apex court said the pricing of the deal and the offset processes were beyond scope of judicial review
  • The Centre has defended the multi-billion deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets and opposed public disclosure of the pricing details

Read the full verdict here.

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KEY EVENT

SC Verdict on Rafale Deal Today

The Supreme Court will pronounce verdict on Friday on pleas seeking court-monitored probe into India's multi-billion dollar Rafale fighter jet deal with France.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas on 14 November.

Advocate ML Sharma was the first petitioner in the case. Later, another lawyer Vineet Dhanda had moved the apex court with the plea for court-monitored probe into the deal.

AAP leader Sanjay Singh has also filed a petition against the fighter jet deal.

Who are the Petitioners?

The most prominent petition among these had been filed by former NDA cabinet ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, along with senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, which alleged violations of the Prevention of Corruption Act by the 'highest political functionaries'.

The petition raised questions about:

  • The way the deal was announced unilaterally by the Prime Minister in April 2015, without getting prior approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security.
  • Non-adherence by the government to the relevant Defence Procurement Procedure, including the conditions when a full tender process could be avoided
  • The high increase in price from the 126 aircraft deal the government had previously been negotiating.
  • The involvement of Anil Ambani's Reliance defence companies in the offset contracts that need to be entered into under the deal, replacing the earlier deal's plan for technology transfers and manufacture of aircraft by HAL.

Also Read : Here’s Why SC Order on Rafale Deal is a Headache for Modi Govt

What Did the Court Say on 14 November?

While reserving the verdict, the apex court had said that the pricing details of Rafale jets could only be discussed after it decides on whether to make it public.

The observation by an apex court bench had came after the government refused to publicly divulge pricing details of the deal, saying it would give advantage to India’s enemies.

While hearing a bunch of pleas alleging criminality in Rafale deal and seeking court-monitored probe into it, the apex court had asked wide-ranging questions from the government on issues including lack of sovereign guarantee from the French government, selection of Indian offset partner by the Dassault Aviation and need of entering into Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with France.

The court had taken note of submissions and counter arguments on pricing of the fighter jets with the petitioners alleging that the government has been giving "bogus arguments" and "hiding behind the secrecy clause".

Vehemently defending non-disclosure of price publicly, Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for Centre had said that the cost of a bare Rafale jet as per 2016 exchange rate was Rs 670 crore and the disclosure of price of a "fully loaded" aircraft would give an "advantage to the adversaries".

Bhushan had claimed that the Union Law Ministry had red-flagged two issues -- absence of sovereign guarantee by France and international arbitration clause in IGA as per which the arbitration seat would be at Geneva -- but the government went ahead with the deal.

Venugopal had admitted that there was no sovereign guarantee, but said that France has given a 'letter of comfort' which would be good enough as a governmental guarantee.

The court during the hearing on the bunch of pleas had also interacted senior Indian Air Force (IAF) officers and enquired about the requirements of the force.

The IAF officers had emphasised in the apex court the need for induction of 'four plus or fifth' generation fighter aircraft like Rafale, which have niche stealth technology and enhanced electronic warfare capabilities

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What Did the Petitioners Say on 14 November?

During the hearings, Prashant Bhushan, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie also raised the question of whether the Rafale deal could be considered an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) between India and France as the government has claimed, since it was unclear whether France had provided India with a sovereign guarantee for the deal.

The Law Ministry had raised concerns about this over during the negotiation process. The deal was only presented as an IGA, according to them, so that the tender process could be circumvented, and an offset contract option added, to the benefit of Reliance.

The government clarified in court that France had not in fact provided a sovereign guarantee, only a letter of comfort. The Cabinet Committee on Security waived the requirement of a sovereign guarantee in August 2016.

As The Quint discovered, this invalidated the basis on which two objections by the Indian Negotiating Team had been resolved, raising further question marks about the process for arriving at the deal.

Also Read : No Sovereign Guarantee, Yet Modi Govt ‘Resolved’ Rafale Objections

What the Centre Said on 14 November?

The Centre contested the claims of corruption, arguing the relevant procedures were in fact followed, and that no allegations of corruption could be substantiated.

The Attorney-General argued that the number of aircraft for the deal had been reduced from 126 to 36 since there was a great urgency for the same, and that the price arrived at was appropriate because it included India-specific enhancements and weaponry.

Before the hearings began, the Supreme Court ordered the government to submit the details of the procedure followed for Rafale deal to it. Copies of the procedure and the offset contract process at play were provided to the petitioners as well, despite the protests of the government.

CJI Starts Reading the Judgment

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi starts reading the verdict on pleas seeking court-monitored probe into India's multi-billion dollar Rafale fighter jet deal with France.nce.

“Power of judicial review varies from subject to subject,” CJI Gogoi said, reading the verdict.

SC Finds 'No Irregularities' in NDA Govt's Decision Making Process

The Supreme Court finds “no irregularities” in NDA government's decision making process to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault under Indo-French intergovernmental agreement.

Not Our Job to Get into Pricing: SC

Reading the verdict, CJI Gogoi said that it is not the job of the court to get into pricing.

No Material to Show Commercial Favourtism: SC

The Supreme Court said that it “did not find” any material to show commercial favourtism.

“There is no reason for interference in the choice of offset partner and perception of individuals can't be the basis for roving inquiry in sensitive issue of defence procurement,” the Chief Justice said, reading the verdict.

Rafale Crystal Clear, SC gave Right Verdict: Rajnath Singh

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, speaking to ANI, said that the Rafale matter was always “crystal clear” and the allegations levelled by the Congress were “wrong.” He added that the Supreme Court has given the right verdict.

Satyamev Jayate: Piyush Goyal on SC Verdict

SC Verdict Wrong, to Decide if We Will File Review Petition: Prashant Bhushan

Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan called the apex court verdict “totally wrong” and that they will file a review petition.

“In our opinion the Supreme Court judgment is totally wrong. The campaign will certainly not drop and we will decide if we will file a review petition,” Bhushan said.

Rafale Deal Fair, Campaigns Against it Must End: Ravi Shankar Prasad

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, responding to the SC verdict, said that the Rafale deal was “fair and all campaigns against it must end.”

“India needed frontline fighter jets. We are happy with the Rafale verdict of the SC. The deal was fair, all campaigns against it should end now,” said Prasad.

Political Parties Demand JPC Probe: TMC's Sugata Roy

TMC MP Saugata Roy said that the Supreme Court said what it “thinks was right” but the political parties demand a JPC probe into the Rafale deal.

Rahul Gandhi Must Apologise: Parliamentary Affairs Minister

The treasury benches Friday, 14 December, mounted a counter-offensive on the Opposition on the Rafale issue in Lok Sabha after the Supreme Court gave a clean chit to the deal, with the government seeking an apology from Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said following the SC verdict, Rahul Gandhi should apologise.

As soon as the Question Hour was taken up, Opposition members trooped into the well carrying placards on various issues, including alleged scam in Rafale deal. But BJP members stood up and started raising slogans against the Congress and Gandhi.

Amid loud sloganeering, around 11:10 am, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House till noon.

SC Verdict Has Exposed Congress Party's Falsehood: Javadekar

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar told News18 that the Supreme Court’s decision has exposed the Congress party’s “falsehood.”

Continue Our Demand for JPC to Investigate Rafale Deal: Congress

SC Verdict Has Established Falsity of Allegations Against Reliance Group: Anil Ambani

Reliance Group Chairman Anil Ambani, who the Congress has alleged was favoured by the NDA government, said that he welcomed the SC verdict.

“I welcome SC judgment today summarily dismissing all PILs filed on Rafale contracts, and conclusively establishing complete falsity of wild, baseless, politically motivated allegations leveled against Reliance Group,” Anil Ambani said, in a statement.

Watch: Cong Addresses Media After SC Verdict on Rafale Deal

“There is no reason for PM and BJP Govt to celebrate Supreme Court order which in itself is contradictory. Honourable SC has said it won't be proper for it to go into details,” said senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Anand Sharma.

The Supreme Court has not commented on many important aspects. We continue to demand a Joint Parliamentary Committee(JPC) on the Rafale Deal. JPC has the right to summon all documents.
Anand Sharma, Congress leader

SC Verdict Exposes Cong's Misinformation Campaign: Amit Shah

'Rahul Tried to Mislead People,' Rajnath Singh Claims in Parliament

Union Minister Rajnath Singh said that Congress President Rahul Gandhi tried to “mislead public for political benefit.”

“He maligned Indian image globally, he should apologize to the house and to the people of the country. He thought 'Hum to doobe hain sanam tum ko bhi le doobenge',” Singh said in the parliament.

SC on Dismissing the Pleas

“In view of our findings on all the three aspects, andhaving heard the matter in detail, we find no reason for anyintervention by this Court on the sensitive issue of purchase of 36 defence aircrafts by the Indian Government,” the SC said.

The verdict also added that, “Perception ofindividuals cannot be the basis of a fishing and roving enquiry bythis Court, especially in such matters. We, thus, dismiss all the writ petitions, leaving it to the parties to bear their own costs.”

“We, however, make it clear that our views as above are primarilyfrom the standpoint of the exercise of the jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution of India which has been invoked in the present group of cases,” the three-judge bench read.

SC on Pricing of Rafale Jets

"It is certainly not the job of this court to carry out a comparison of the pricing details in matters like the present. We say no more as the material has to be kept in a confidential domain," the Supreme Court verdict said.

On Reduction in Aircraft from 126 to 36

“We cannot sit in judgment over the wisdom of deciding to go in for purchase of 36 aircrafts in place of 126. We cannot possibly compel the government to go in for purchase of 126 aircraft. This is despite the fact that even before the withdrawal of RFP, an announcement came to be made in April 2015 about the decision to go in only for 36 aircrafts,” the verdict said. 

SC on Commercial Favouritism

"The role of the Government is not envisaged and, thus, mere press interviews or suggestions cannot form the basis for judicial review by this Court, especially when there is categorical denial of the statements made in the Press, by both the sides,” the verdict read.

“We do not find any substantial material on record to show that this is a case of commercial favouritism to any party by the Indian Government, as the option to choose the IOP does not *rest with* the Indian Government," the three-judge verdict read.

SC Verdict is A Validation of What Cong Started Few Months Ago: Surjewala

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala responded to the Supreme Court verdict by stating that the order is a “validation” of what the Congress started a few months ago.

“Article 136 and 32 are not the forum to decide the issue – the pricing, the process, the sovereign guarantee and the corruption in the Rafale contract. Only forum and only media is a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) which can probe the entire corruption in Rafale deal,” Surjewala said.

Watch: Mallikarjun Kharge Addresses Media

Sitharaman Meets PM Modi

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following the SC verdict on court-monitored probe into Rafale deal, reported ANI.

Parrikar Tweets After Rafale Verdict

Watch: Amit Shah Addresses Media After SC Verdict

BJP President Amit Shah said that he “welcomed” the apex court’s verdict, adding that “truth has triumphed.”

“People were being misled by unfortunately the country's oldest party. It's a slap on politics of lies,” Amit Shah said, addressing a press conference.

Attacking Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Shah said that he should “apologise to the nation for misleading people.”

“Want to ask Rahul Gandhi what was the source of information on basis of which he made such big allegations,” Shah said.

“All these years while Congress was in power, why haven’t they entered into a government to government deal for defence procurement ? All through Michels and Quottrochis.”
Amit Shah, BJP Chief

Rafale Verdict Not a Setback: Jyotiraditya Scindia

Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, when asked about the Rafale verdict said that it is in “no way, a setback for the party.”

“I don’t think this is a setback. A setback happens in the court of the public. Since the public believes that there is something fishy about this deal, we’ll bring this matter up in the house as well,” Scindia said.

Rahul, Oppn Made False Allegations: Ram Madhav

BJP leader Ram Madhav said that Rahul Gandhi and other Opposition parties leveled “false allegations” against PM Modi.

“Congress, Rahul Gandhi and some opposition parties have been making false allegations against PM Modia and our governmentt over rafele deal. Today SC has categorically rejected all those allegations and upheld the transparent manner in which the entire deal has been worked out,” he said.

Rafale Deal Verdict Excellent: Venugopal

Attorney General KK Venugopal said that the Supreme Court judgment on the Rafale deal was “excellent.”

False Allegations Against PM Modi & Govt: Ram Madhav

BJP leader Ram Madhav said some opposition parties have made “false allegations” against PM Narendra Modi and their government.

“Today SC has categorically rejected all those allegations and upheld the transparent manner in which the entire deal has been worked out,” Ram Madhav said.

'If Caught Lying, a Politician Should Resign': Arun Jaitley

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held a press conference hours after the Rafale deal case verdict.

“If a politician is caught lying, he should either resign or be impeached.” said Jaitley, hinting at Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s claims on the deal. Jaitley also said that deal in question has only protected both security and commercial interests of India.

“The Rafale deal had protected both, security and commercial interests of India. If honest deals in the interest of India are brought under the cloud, our civil servants and officials will think ten times before going ahead with such exercises of country’s interest. Those who lied have hurt India’s larger interest.”
Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister told media

On why only 36 fighter jets were finalised, Nirmala Sitharaman said that the work is in progress with the rest of the air crafts.

Rahul Gandhi Raises Questions After SC's Rafale Verdict

“We demand a Joint Parliamentary Committee to look into the Rafale deal,” Congress President Rahul Gandhi said hours after the Supreme Court refused to order a probe into the deal.

Gandhi also said the day there is an investigation into the matter, “Narendra Modi and Anil Ambani’s names will emerge.”

Raising questions on the pricing of the deal, Gandhi said:

“How can the cost be a secret? It’s the taxpayers money. Why was the Rafale contract snatched from HAL and given to Ambani, and why was employment snatched from the youth?”

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge added, “In its judgment, the Supreme Court had said the CAG report on Rafale deal given to Parliament's Public Accounts Committee. But PAC has not received report.”

'Dedicated to Establishing Make in India': Dassault Aviation

Hailing the Supreme Court decision, Dassault Aviation has said that the company is dedicated to “promote Make in India.”

The statement further read, “Dassault Aviation will ensure successful production in India through Dassault Reliance Joint Venture in Nagpur as well as through a full-fledged supply chain network.”

Truth Has a Way of Catching Up: Randeep Surjewala

Senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala trained his guns on the government and said, “Is a guilty Modi Govt seeking to ‘correct’ the patent fraud played upon the Supreme Court.”

In his tweet, he further said – “Truth has a way of catching up.”

PAC to Summon Attorney General, CAG Over Rafale Report Submitted to SC

A day after the Supreme Court verdict on the Rafale deal, Public Accounts Committee chairman Mallikarjun Kharge said on Saturday that he would request all members of the panel to summon the Attorney General and the CAG to ask them when the public auditor's report was tabled in Parliament.

The senior Congress leader accused the government of "misleading" the Supreme Court by presenting wrong facts about the CAG report on the Rafale deal and demanded that the government should apologise for it, reported PTI.

“The Government lied in the SC, saying that the CAG report was presented in the house and in PAC and that PAC has probed it. They said that it is in the public domain. Where is it? Have you seen it? I am going to take this up with other members of PAC. We will summon AG and CAG”, he said.

Subramaniam Swamy Responds to Kharge's Allegations

“The PAC Chairman Mallikarjun Kharge is saying he has not received the CAG report. Then we have to take his word. He should either file an affidavit or review the petition in court saying that he did not receive the report and that the committee has not examined it”, BJP MP Subramaniam Swamy said on Saturday, 15 December, in response to Kharge’s statement claiming that he had not seen the report.

Sharad Pawar on the SC Judgment

Speaking on the Rafale judgment, Sharad Pawar, NCP President said, “The SC judgement says that the decision is based on the basis of information they got from the Government. The Government told them that CAG has studied it and that Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has also approved it, but those things are not correct.”

AG Should Be Called Before PAC and Questioned: Kapil Sibal

Speaking to the press, Kapil Sibal said, “The Government is responsible for giving wrong facts to the Supreme Court. I think the Attorney General should be called before the PAC and be asked why wrong facts were presented. This is a very serious matter.”

“We have been very clear that Supreme Court was not an appropriate forum on which these issues can be decided, as it cannot summon and examine file notings, witnesses on oath, including questioning the Prime Minister, and we need to question the PM”, he added.

KEY EVENT

Central Govt Files Affidavit Before Supreme Court

Central Govt has filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court and has served a copy of it to all the petitioners in the Rafale deal, reported ANI.

Rafale is an Excellent Aircraft, the Issue is Political: Retd Air Marshal M Matheswaran

Speaking to ANI, Air Marshal M Matheswaran, former deputy chief of the Integrated Defence staff of Indian Armed Forces, said, “Indian Air Force is looking at Rafale as an excellent aircraft, SC has also agreed to that. As far as military is concerned, issue is over there.”

Govt Claims SC ‘Misinterpreted’ Comment on CAG Report

Government has filed an application in the apex court which claims that the court ‘misinterpreted’ the information provided by the government to the court in a sealed cover on 12 November.

Indian Youth Congress Workers Demands JPC Probe

Indian Youth Congress workers march towards India Gate demanding the constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the Rafale deal.

Govt Lied to SC on Rafale; Committed Contempt of Court, Perjury: Cong

The Congress alleged that the BJP-led government at the Centre had misled the Supreme Court over the Rafale deal and committed contempt of court and perjury.

Speaking to the media, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the basis of the court ruling was a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) which has not been seen by anyone, nor has it been shared with Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The apex court said it was ill-equipped to conduct judicial review of issues related to pricing, and this has been the Congress' stand. Hence, the party is demanding a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), he said.

“The BJP has hoodwinked the nation and cheated the people. Now it has the guts to do the same to mislead the apex court. There is serious misrepresentation of vital, significant facts to the apex court. This amounts to contempt (of court), (breach of) privilege as well as perjury,” he claimed.

‘Modi’ now stands for 'Misleading Of Democratic Institutions', he quipped.

Why Didn't the Govt Buy More If the Deal Was Cheaper: P Chidambaram

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday, 15 December, took a dig at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for saying that the NDA government got the Rafale aircraft deal at a cheaper price, questioning if it was so, why did it not buy seven squadrons instead of two.

In a series of tweets, Chidambaram said Jaitley has been maintaining that in the Rafale deal, negotiated by the NDA government, the price of the aircraft was cheaper by 9 percent or 20 percent.

The former finance and home minister said the Indian Air Force has been maintaining that its fighter aircraft strength is depleted and it needs at least 7 squadrons (126 aircraft).

Who Filed Affidavit? PM Should Find Out: S Swamy

Speaking to ANI, Subramanian Swamy said that if Attorney General KK Venugopal has claimed that if the affidavit regarding the pricing details of the Rafale Deal wasn’t filed by him, then the Prime Minister should “find it out because it embarrasses him”.

He also said that if the judges hearing the case had based their judgement on the affidavit, then it could “hamper justice”.

BJP to Hold 70 Press Conferences to 'Expose' Cong Conspiracy

The BJP has said that it will hold Press Conferences at 70 different locations across the country on Monday, 17 December, to "expose Congress for plotting conspiracy against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Central government and messing with country's defence,” ANI reported.

RJD Leader to Move Privilege Motion Against Attorney-Gen in Rajya Sabha

RJD MP Manoj Jha will be moving the Privilege Motion against the Attorney General in the Rajya Sabha over the Rafale deal, ANI reported.

“It’s clear now that government gave factually incorrect information to Supreme Court and it delivered its verdict based on it. It should've gone to parliament but went to judiciary instead; it's a breach of constitutional institutions. Only Attorney General can answer, he should be summoned by Parliament,” Jha said.

The prime minister is Neither there is a CAG report on Rafale more it has been submitted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Government has misled Supreme Court. This is contempt of court.
Anand Sharma, former union minister

Cong Addressed Press Conference on Rafale Row

Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma addressed a press conference at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi. The Congress leadership touched upon the issue of the recent SC verdict on the Rafale row. Sharma said that it is unfortunate that the prime minister and his government are trying to avoid investigation.

KEY EVENT

Jaitley Rules out Setting up JPC on Rafale Deal

Ruling out referring the Rafale deal to a parliamentary panel, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Sunday launched a blistering attack on the Congress, calling it "bad losers" and said the CAG's view of the deal is not relevant after the Supreme Court's clean chit.

With the first four days of winter session of Parliament washed out over various protests, Jaitley said the opposition Congress will prefer disruptions over discussion on Rafale during the remainder of the session.

The Congress, which was not a petitioner before the apex court, wants the Rafale deal to be referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to go into the price arrived at by the BJP government versus the one negotiated by the previous UPA regime, as also how billionaire Anil Ambani's group with virtually no experience in manufacture of fighter jets was selected as an offset partner for the deal.

"After the Supreme Court has spoken the last word, it gets legitimacy. A political body can never come to a finding contrary to what the Court has said," Jaitley wrote in a Facebook blog, titled 'Rafale - Lies, Shortlived lies and now further lies?'.

KEY EVENT

PAC May Not Summon AG, CAG as Majority of Members Against Kharge's Proposal

The PAC might not summon attorney general and the CAG over the public auditor's report on Rafale deal, as a majority of the members, including those from opposition parties, are not in favour of the proposal by panel chairman Mallikarjun Kharge.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had Friday claimed the Supreme Court in its verdict cited a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the deal that was submitted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), but he asserted that no such report was given to the House panel headed by Kharge.

BJP MPs Move Breach of Privilege Notice Against Rahul

As the BJP stepped up attack on Rahul Gandhi over the Rafale issue, three members of the ruling party in the Lok Sabha moved a notice of breach of privilege against the Congress president, alleging that he spoke "falsehood" and "misled the House" over the fighter aircraft deal in his speech during a debate in July.

BJP MPs Anurag Thakur, Nishikant Dubey and Sanjay Jaiswal have sought action against Gandhi over his speech during the debate on the no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government in Parliament's Monsoon Session.

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