Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, Prashant Bhushan move SC seeking FIR in Rafale deal
Former union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, along with advocate Prashant Bhushan, have approached the Supreme Court, seeking the registration of a criminal case and a court-monitored investigation into the Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France.
The petition filed on Wednesday alleges corruption in the procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft by the highest public servants in the country and claims that procedures were ignored to make a new deal with the French company.
The National Democratic Alliance government’s decision to enter an $8.7 billion government-to-government deal with France to buy 36 Rafale warplanes made by Dassault Aviation was announced in April 2015, with an agreement signed a little over a year later. This replaced the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime’s decision to buy 126 Rafale aircraf t, 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 ~1,670 crore for each, three times the ~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.
The NDA has not disclosed details of the price, citing a confidentiality clause. The deal has also become controversial on account of the fact that one of the offset deals signed by Dassault is with the Reliance Group of Anil Ambani. The Congress claims the earlier deal was scrapped and a new one signed just to provide Ambani this opportunity for an offset deal. Both the government and Reliance have repeatedly denied this.
Assailing the procedure adopted by the NDA government for the purchase of the 36 jets, the petition filed by Sinha and Shourie, dissidents from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, says: “...highest ranking public officials, unilaterally, in violation of all mandatory procedures, without obtaining any SQRs from the IAF, or any decision of the Categorisation Committee or any Acceptance of Necessity from the Defence Acquisition Council, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the French regarding purchase of just 36 Rafale aircraft, all in a ‘fly away’ condition with no Transfer of Technology and no Make in India.”
SQRs is short for service qualifying requirements.
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