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Yashwant, Shourie & Bhushan move SC on Rafale

Apex court urged to register case, as CBI 'under pressure'

By Our Special Correspondent in New Delhi

  • Published 25.10.18, 2:35 AM
  • Updated 25.10.18, 11:47 AM
Prime Minister, on behalf of India, agreed to purchase only 36 Rafale aircraft in a “fly-away” condition without any transfer of technology as part of the new deal
Prime Minister, on behalf of India, agreed to purchase only 36 Rafale aircraft in a “fly-away” condition without any transfer of technology as part of the new deal Source: Shutterstock

Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and civil liberties lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court seeking registration of an FIR under the Prevention of Corruption Act against “high-ranking public servants” over the Rafale aircraft deal.

The petition is expected to come up for hearing next week, along with two pending petitions on Rafale in which the court had sought a sealed-cover report on the “decision-making process”.

In their joint petition, Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan contended that the CBI was under tremendous pressure not to investigate the matter although they had lodged a formal complaint on October 4 for registration of an FIR.

“The petitioners, on coming to know of all these facts and having collected some of the evidence thereafter, filed a complaint with the CBI for registering an FIR and investigating this case of ‘criminal misconduct’ by high-ranking public servants. However, it is clear that there is enormous pressure on the CBI because of the nature of the persons involved not to undertake this investigation. Till date, not even an FIR has been registered in the matter and hence the petitioners are approaching the Hon’ble Court for getting specially designated officers in the CBI to investigate this case and for this Hon’ble Court to monitor the investigation,” the petition said.

According to petition, in 2007, tenders were issued by the defence ministry for the purchase of 126 fighter aircraft and it was specified in the Request for Proposal that 18 of these would be bought in a “fly-away” condition and that the remaining 108 would be manufactured in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with transfer of technology from the foreign vendor.

Six companies had applied and after extensive trials by the air force, two were shortlisted. After that the financial bids were opened and Dassault, manufacturers of Rafale, were declared the lowest bidder. Thereafter, price negotiations began. These negotiations were at a very advanced stage (95 per cent complete) by March 25, 2015.

However within 15 days of this, the Prime Minister of India and the President of France announced a totally new deal, jettisoning the virtually complete 126-aircraft deal. The Prime Minister, on behalf of India, agreed to purchase only 36 Rafale aircraft in a “fly-away” condition without any transfer of technology.

The petition said it later turned out that the new deal involved 50 per cent of the value of the contract to be given as “offset contracts” to Indian companies, and that the government informally told Dassault and the French government that the bulk of the offset contracts would have to be given to a company of Anil Ambani that had just been set up.

“The total price of the deal to be about Rs 60,000 crore (8.139 billion euros) for 36 aircraft. This is what is embarrassing for the government, for it works out to Rs 1,660 crore per plane. This is more than double the price of the aircraft under the earlier… deal, an almost Rs 1,000 crore higher per aircraft than the price that was furnished by government itself to Parliament on 18th of November, 2016,” the petition said.