A petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday, 12 April, seeking an independent investigation into the Rafale deal in the light of fresh revelations by a French news portal of alleged corruption. The apex court said it will hear the matter urgently but did not give a date.
The petition was filed by lawyer ML Sharma.
The petition comes after a French news portal alleged that there was "massive corruption" and a "loss to public exchequer of at least Rs 21,075 crore".
A three-series investigation by the media house claimed that it was in possession of documents that showed Dassault Aviation, which manufactures the Rafale jet, and its industrial partner Thales, a defence electronics firm, paid a “middleman” several million euros in “secret commissions” in connection with the Rs 59,000-crore deal for 36 jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Rahul, Priyanka Target Modi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to react to the development and raised a few questions.
Taking a jibe at the PM’s ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha’ event, he said: “Dear students, Prime Minister said answer questions without fear and nervousness. Please ask him to do the same: Who took money in the Rafale corruption scandal? Who deleted the anti-corruption clauses in the contract? Who gave middlemen access to key Defence Ministry documents?”
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi too asked PM Modi to answer the “difficult question first.”
“Difficult questions first, would the Prime Minister and his billionaire friends care to respond? Who took money in the Rafale corruption scandal? Who deleted the anti-corruption clauses in the contract? Who gave middlemen access to key Defence Ministry documents?” she tweeted.
The Congress on Friday also held a press conference to question the Modi-led government over the revelations, with Congress national media in charge Randeep Singh Surjewala saying: “The scandalous expose of facts and string of documents have uncovered a concerted collusion to defraud the public exchequer as also massive corruption.”
“Isn't it correct that the 'Indian Negotiating Team' (INT) on August 10, 2015, arrived at a benchmark cost of Euro 5.06 billion for 36 Rafale fighter jets, including weaponry package, etc. Is it now not proven by the documents released by the French News Portal, who has accessed Enforcement Directorate (ED) documents recovered from the middlemen?” Surjewala said.
He questioned that isn't it correct that the price of Euro 7.87 billion for 36 aircraft was decided by Dassault Aviation in its internal meeting dated 20 January 2016.
He further asked if it was not correct that the Indian team had rejected this price calculation of Euro 7.87 billion for 36 aircraft, the very next day and isn't it correct that on 23 September 2016, the price of Euro 7.87 billion for 36 aircraft was accepted by the BJP government and the contract was awarded to Dassault.
Surjewala said, “What was the reason for additional payment of Rs 21,075 crore, causing loss to the public exchequer?”
The Rafale Deal
The BJP-led NDA government at the Centre had inked a Rs 59,000-crore deal on 23 September 2016, to procure 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation.
The deal was finalised after a seven-year exercise to procure the jets for the Indian Air Force did not succeed during the UPA regime.
The Congress had raised the issue of corruption in the Rafale deal ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The government had rejected all charges levelled by the Opposition.
(With inputs from IANS.)