Supreme Court to hear fresh PIL on 'kickbacks' in Rafale deal
The controversy surrounding Rafale fighter jet deal is far from over. Chief Justice SA Bobde has agreed to hear a fresh public interest litigation (PIL) over alleged corruption in the 2016 deal after two weeks
The controversy surrounding Rafale fighter jet deal is far from over. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a fresh public interest litigation (PIL) over alleged corruption in the 2016 deal after two weeks.
The petitioner, ML Sharma, who is himself a lawyer, sought an independent investigation over a new charge that an Indian middleman was paid 1.1 million Euros by aviation major Dassault to complete the deal.
The PIL has made Prime Minister Narendra Modi Respondent No. 1. Union of India and CBI are respondents No.2 and 3.
The fresh allegation was stoked by a French media report, which quoted France’s anti-corruption agency, to say that Dassault Aviation gave one million Euros to an Indian company called Defsys Solutions for 50 models of the aircraft which were to be given as “gifts”.
One of these models has been installed outside Indian Air Force Chief’s official residence. One more has been installed at Western Air Command in Gwalior while others will be installed at new Rafale squadron in Hasimara and other places.
“The company (Dassault) said the money was used to pay for the manufacture of 50 large replica models of Rafale jets, even though the inspectors were given no proof that these models were made,” French publication ‘Mediapart’ reported.
Sushen Gupta, the owner of Defsys Solutions, is already facing a probe in the Agusta-Westland helicopter scam. Importantly, Defsys is a subcontractor of Dassault in India.
Defsys Solutions denied the fresh charge of receiving kickbacks. Sushen Gupta is presently out on bail.
Dassault Aviation too has rejected the charge, arguing that no violations were reported in the frame of the contract.
A Dassault Aviation spokesperson said, “Numerous controls are carried out by official organisations, including the French Anti-Corruption Agency. No violations were reported, notably in the frame of the contract with India for the acquisition of 36 Rafales.”
The Congress has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make an official statement on the fresh set of allegations.
About the Rafale deal
It is a political controversy related to the purchase of 36 multirole fighter aircraft for a price estimated at €7.8 billion by the Defence Ministry of India from France’s Dassault Aviation. The origin of the deal lies in the Indian MMRCA competition, a multi-billion dollar contract to supply 126 multi-role combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF).
On December 14, 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the Rafale deal, stating that no irregularities or corruption have been found. The Supreme Court delivered the final legal judgment on the controversy on November 14, 2019 and dismissed all the petitions seeking a review of its December 2018 judgment.
The fourth batch of the jets arrived in India earlier this month. The country received the first batch of five planes in July last year, a second batch in November and a third batch this January.