A French judge has been appointed to head a probe into the controversial 2015 Rafale fighter jets deal case, reported AFP, quoting the French national financial prosecutors office on Friday, 2 July.
The Rs 60,000 crore (7.8 billion euros) deal for 36 planes between French aircraft manufacturer Dassault and the Indian government has been under a cloud of corruption allegations since the deal was signed in September 2016.
The latest development comes after French publication Mediapart, carried several investigative reports of allegations in the Rafale case in April 2021.
The French publication has also claimed the case was formally open on 14 June and the independent magistrate will also be looking allegations surrounding former French President François Hollande.
Mediapart also recently alleged the existence of a middleman and payment of commission for the Rafale deal.
Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday tweeted out "thief's beard" using the hashtag #RafaleScam.
'Only Way Forward': Congress Demands Joint Parliamentary Panel Probe
On Saturday, the Congress demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the allegedly corrupt deal and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order the investigation.
Speaking to the Press, the party's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala stated, "Corruption in the Rafale deal has come out clearly now. The stand of the Congress and Rahul Gandhi was vindicated today after the French government ordered a probe."
He added that an independent probe conducted by the JPC was the only way forward as the Supreme Court has conceded and "no longer has the jurisdiction, wherewithal or capacity to let witnesses depose before the SC or to have access to the entire government record."
Pointing out that it was a matter of national security and identity, Surjewala questioned, "The facts are now clear and call for a thorough JPC probe into the Rafale scam. Will the prime minister, like France, now answer to the nation and tell when he will submit his government to a JPC probe into the Rafale scam," NDTV quoted.
The Rafale Deal Controversy
The BJP-led Centre has signed a controversial inter-governmental deal with the French government on 23 September 2016.
Defsys Solutions, a sub-contractor in the Rafale deal, is a company run by Sushen Gupta, who is currently out on bail over investigation by the Enforcement Directorate and CBI in the 2013 Augusta Westland VVIP chopper deal.
Rafale is a 4.5 generation aircraft and has the latest weapons, superior sensors and fully integrated architecture. It is an omni-role aircraft which means it can carry out at least four missions in one sortie.
The deal became controversial after the Congress claimed that the price at which India purchased each jet, which stands at Rs 1,670 crore, is three times the initial bid of Rs 526 crore when the UPA was planning to buy the aircraft.
However, the Modi-government has not disclosed the details of the price citing a confidentiality agreement with France and strategic security reasons.
(With inputs from NDTV)