Rafale Deal: Will CBI Act On Complaint Against Modi Govt?
On Thursday, 4 October, the former union ministers and BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and the senior advocate of the Supreme Court, Prashant Bhushan, filed a complaint with the CBI against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Chairman of Reliance ADA group Anil Ambani and the CEO of Dassault Aviation Eric Trappier in the controversial Rafale deal.
The complaints have alleged that a conspiracy was hatched between PM Modi and Anil Ambani, by way of which, “PM Modi obtained an undue advantage from Dassault Aviation, for awarding a contract for 36 Rafale aircrafts in ‘fly-away’ condition, by abusing the authority of his office”.
The complainant also alleged that:
PM Modi compelled Dassault to choose Mr. Ambani as an offset partner, by way of which Mr.Ambani received, and is receiving, and will continue to receive, for the next 40 years, an ‘undue advantage’. The offset contracts worth tens of thousands of crores which have been awarded to Reliance Aerostructure Limited (owned by Anil Ambani) are not and cannot be considered to be legal remuneration for services actually rendered or services which could credibly be rendered by Reliance Aerostructure Limited.
Alleging that Modi and the Defence Minister misused their official position by passing on undue advantage to Reliance, the complainants want the CBI to register an FIR under Section 7 (a) (b) (c) of amended Prevention of Corruption Act (PC) and criminal misconduct under Section 13(1)(d)(ii) and (ii) as mention in the unamended PC Act.
While Eric Trappier of Dassault Aviation and Ambani of Reliance should also be investigated under the same FIR for conspiring with PM Modi for pecuniary gain which is against the public interest.
Grounds For FIR
The complainants have mentioned point-wise allegations against PM Modi and others involved in the Rafale deal.
1. PM Committed Abuse of Authority
PM Modi without consulting Indian Air Force or Defence Acquisition Council regarding purchasing ‘ready to fly’ Rafale aircraft from Dassault, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the French regarding the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft.
2. PM Favoured Anil Ambani Group
PM Modi told the French government and the Dassault Aviation company that this contract of 36 ‘ready to fly’ aircraft will be only given to Dassault Aviation, if they gave the major part of the offset contracts in this deal to Anil Ambani’s company.
3. Increase in Aircraft Price
The complainant allege that Modi presided over the government and got the critical persons involved and Contract Negotiation Committee to increase the contract price of the 36 Rafale aircrafts from Rs 715 crores per aircraft, as it was disclosed by the former defence minister Manohar Parrikar, to Rs 1660 crores per aircraft. This resulted in a pecuniary advantage to both Dassault and Anil Ambani’s defence company. And this would amount to ‘criminal misconduct’.
Under Section 17 (A) of the amended Prevention of Corruption Act, the CBI would require a prior permission of the government to investigate a serving government official. On this point the complainant has said that:
“We are aware that this will place you (CBI) in the peculiar situation, of having to ask the accused himself, for permission to investigate a case against him. We realise that your hands are tied in this matter, but we request you to at least take the first step, of seeking permission of the government under Section 17 (A) of Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act.”
Under Section 17 (A) of PC Act, the concerned authority has to convey its decision to the investigating agency within a period of three months in either scenario.
The complainant also specifies that while the agency requires permission to investigate PM Modi and the Defence Minister, nothing is stopping them from registering an FIR and investigate the alleged offences committed by Anil Ambani and Eric Trappier.
On 21 September, the former French president Francois Hollande told a French newspaper that France was not given an option of choosing a local partner for Dassault Aeronautics. Hollande also said that Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence was chosen by the Indian government.
The Congress had earlier demanded Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) in the Rafale deal but it was rejected by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.