Podcast | Dissecting the Govt’s Reply on the Rafale Deal Pricing

What are the three loopholes in the government’s response to the Rafale deal pricing? Tune in to The Big Story!

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At the end of October, after a lot of pressure from the Opposition, the Supreme Court asked the government to submit details of the price of the Rafale fighter aircraft.

Predictably, the government reacted to this by saying that the information was confidential, the price wasn’t revealed in parliament, and that the previous Congress government also didn’t give details of the original Rafale deal.

The government basically resorted to their most reliable response and said: “Congress ne bhi nahi kiya!” (even Congress didn’t do it).

But after the Supreme Court’s strict instructions, the government, on 12 November, sent their reply to the SC through a 16-page document listing details of the price of the Rafale aircraft.

Now we come to the meat of the matter, the big story that we’re talking about today. One is Dassault CEO, Eric Tappier issuing a statement about corruption allegations against his company and the Indian government. And secondly, the legal status of the case in India after the government sent its reply.

First things first, Dassault CEO Eric Tappier denied all allegations of corruption simply by saying that he doesn’t lie. Yep. He basically said, “I don’t lie! I would never do this!”

All this came up, because there are a bunch of petitions in the SC, many filed by Opposition leaders, asking for an investigation into the deal between Reliance and Dassault.

After the government’s reply on 12 November, the petitioners argued that the document had a number of loopholes.

The Quint asked senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, one of the petitioners in this case, to explain what these loopholes are.

First Loophole

The government’s reply says that proper procedure was followed in making the new Rafale deal. But was that so? The procedure that should have been followed was – first, ‘negotiation’ between India and France on the prices of the aircraft. Second, the ‘approval’ of the Cabinet Committee on Security. And third, the Indian government’s ‘announcement’ on the Rafale deal.

But in India’s case, the government announced the deal in April 2015, started negotiating in May 2015, and got the security committee’s approval a whole year later in August 2016.

Second Loophole

Where did the request for 36 jets come from? The actual number of Rafale jets required was 126. As per the original deal, 18 were supposed to be provided by Dassault in ready-to-fly condition. India was supposed to make the remaining 108 with Dassault’s technology, in India. So, in all this, where did the number ‘36’ come in?

Third Loophole

The number of aircraft was reduced from 126 to 36 allegedly because HAL and Dassault couldn’t agree on the technology transfer bit. Because of this roadblock, the Indian government began drafting a new proposal for the deal in March 2015. The proposal was finished in June 2015. But PM Modi made the joint statement about the Rafale deal, with the French government in April 2015.

Now back to the present, the Opposition didn’t take the government’s answer about the deal’s pricing or the Dassault CEO’s reply, lying down.

So, the petitioners have said that they’ll file a rejoinder, or, in aam aadmi (common man) terms, a reply to the government soon. We’ll be tracking all that, and more. Stay tuned!

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