Rafale deal negotiated for year, says Centre in report to Supreme Court
The document titled “Details of the steps in the decision making process leading to the award of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft order” stated that the process as laid down in the Defence Procurement Procedure-2013 has been followed in procurement of the Rafale aircraft.Updated: Nov 12, 2018 15:37 IST
A team of Indian negotiators set up to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets had got a better deal on price and maintenance of the planes as compared to the earlier offer from French firm Dassault, according to the Centre’s report on the purchase of the jets submitted to the Supreme Court last month.
On Monday, the Centre handed over a redacted version of this report to petitioners who want a court-monitored CBI probe into the controversial deal. The document details the decision-making process for buying the planes.
In this 16-page document, the government says it had formed a team of negotiators led by a Deputy Chief of Air Staff rank officer that carried out negotiations for over a year. This team submitted its report in July 2016 and the deal was cleared by the Cabinet Committee of Security and Defence Acquisition Council.
The report was passed on to the petitioners in compliance with the top court’s order which permitted the government to redact sensitive portions that could impact on the country’s security.
Details, including the steps in the decision making process for the procurement of jets, which could “legitimately” be brought into public domain, should be made available to the parties who have filed petitions before it in the matter, the court had said.
The court, which will hear the case later this week, had also ordered the central government to provide pricing details of the planes.
The NDA has not disclosed details of the price, but the UPA deal, struck in 2012, was not a viable one, former defence minister Manohar Parrikar had previously said. The NDA has said the current deal also includes customised weaponry.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s decision to enter a $8.7 billion government-to-government deal with France to buy 36 Rafale warplanes made by Dassault was announced in April 2015, with an agreement signed a little over a year later.
This replaced the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime decision to buy 126 Rafale aircraft, 108 of which were to be made in India by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
The deal has become controversial with the Opposition, led by the Congress, claiming that the price at which India is buying Rafale aircraft now is Rs 1,670 crore each, three times the Rs 526 crore, the initial bid by the company when the UPA was trying to buy the aircraft. It has also claimed the previous deal included a technology transfer agreement with HAL.