As per the French website Mediapart, The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) of France has appointed an independent investigating judge to investigate the different allegations in the controversial Rs 59,000-crore Rafale deal of 2016. The probe into the multi-billion dollar intergovernmental deal was initiated on June 14 this year.
“ A judicial probe into suspected corruption has been opened in France over the 7.8-billion-euro sale to India in 2016 of 36 Dassault-built Rafale fighter aircraft,” reported Mediapart.
Sherpa, an NGO which works in the field giving support to victims of financial crimes, had filed a complaint in April with PNF. The NGO has alleged “corruption”, “influence peddling”, “money laundering”, “favouritism” and undue tax wavering around the Rafale deal.
The criminal investigation will examine questions surrounding the actions of former French president François Hollande, who was in office when the Rafale deal was inked, and current French president Emmanuel Macron, who was at the time Hollande’s economy and finance minister, as well as the then defence minister, now foreign affairs minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Sherpa had called for a French probe into the selection of Reliance as the Indian industrial partner for Dassault on October 26 2018 also. It claimed that it has conducted its own inquiry in the past two years and based on that inquiry, Sherpa alleged that there were suspicious payments, hidden commissions, and the absence of anti-corruption clauses in weapons contracts.
As per Mediapart, Agence Française Anticorruption (AFA) found that Dassault made suspicious payments worth €1 million to Sushen Gupta, an Indian “middle man” who helped secure the Rafale contract. He was arrested by Enforcement Directorate in connection to a Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper scam.
Chor Ki Daadi me Tinka
JPC जाँच के लिए मोदी सरकार तैयार क्यों नहीं है?
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 4, 2021
Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.
– Lord Buddha #RafaleScam
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) July 3, 2021
— WhatsApp University🎓 (@PunnyBhaiya) July 3, 2021
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 5, 2021
French ordering a formal investigation into #RafaleScam for 'corruption', 'influence peddling', 'money laundering' & 'favouritism' vindicates Shri @RahulGandhi's expose of Modi govt's treason with national security. We demand a JPC probe into the matter. #राफेल_का_सच_छुपेगा_नहीं
— K C Venugopal (@kcvenugopalmp) July 3, 2021
— Cartoonist Abhijith B L gowda ಅಭಿಜಿತ್ ಬಿ ಎಲ್ ಗೌಡ (@abhijithblgowda) July 4, 2021
Rafale Dalal or Rafale denial? pic.twitter.com/1ZiTROsBJl
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) July 4, 2021
Even in the Bofors scam, it was the investigation by the Swedish prosecutor & by the media, which exposed the scam rather than any investigation by Indian authorities which try to cover up. See my book Bofors:The selling of a nation. The same is now happening with the Rafael deal https://t.co/Y2ILTYmXJT
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) July 3, 2021
Conduct A JPC Probe
The opposition has been demanding for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the alleged Rafale scam. “The emerging facts now call for a thorough JPC probe. We have always maintained that a JPC probe into the Rafale deal, and not a court hearing, will clear the air,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
Citing the fact that Congress had already highlighted those allegations earlier, Surjewala added, “The scandalous exposé of the Rafale scam, involving massive corruption, treason, and loss to the public exchequer, has finally been uncovered and laid bare. The Congress party and Shri Rahul Gandhi stand vindicated today.”
SC’s Clean Chit To Centre
In September 2018, Supreme Court agreed to hear a public interest writ petition which seeks cancellation of the deal. On 14 December 2018, CJI Ranjan Gogoi led three-judge bench dismissed all the petitions filed by Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, advocate Prashant Bhushan, AAP leader Sanjay Singh who were seeking a probe. The bench gave a clean chit to the Central government on all three aspects, which includes decision making, pricing, and selection of Indian offset partner.
SC Ruling Based On Non-Existent CAG Report
“The pricing details have, however, been shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General (hereinafter referred to as “CAG”), and the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee (hereafter referred to as “PAC”). Only a redacted portion of the report was placed before the Parliament, and is in public domain,” reads paragraph 25 of SC verdict.
However, controversy erupted after PAC Chairman Mallikarjun Kharge stated that the committee has not received any report by CAG. “Where is this report of the CAG? How it to us if it exists,” he said. The Union government later moved the apex court with an application for corrections and directions in connection to the several discrepancies in the govt submitted report.
Series of Suspicious Events Throughout Rafale Deal
- Anil Ambani’s visit to France about a fortnight before PM Modi announced the Rafale deal.
- Ambani’s Production House investment in the movie of then President Francois Hollande’s partner, Julie Gayet
- Picking Reliance as an industrial partner and knocking out veteran Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
- No governmental approvals for the formation of a joint venture between Dassault Aviation and Reliance Defence Limited.
- Sudden reduction of fighter planes from 126 to 36.
- Alleged price escalation.
- Conflicting statements of Indian government and then France president Hollande about the appointment of offset partners.
Rafale inter-governmental acquisition agreement between India and France that started in 2001 was finally signed in September 2016. Earlier, Dassault Rafale had to transfer 126 aircraft. In which, 18 aircraft were to be supplied by Dassault Aviation and the remaining 108 aircraft were to be manufactured in India by HAL. In 2015, 126 Rafale acquisition tender was withdrawn and negotiations for 36 Rafale began.
The package includes
- 28 single-seat aircraft (₹681.7 crores each)
- 8 dual-seat aircraft (₹703.4 crores each)
- Weapons package (₹5,313 crores)
- Performance-based logistics agreement (₹2,641 crores)
- Tailor-made enhancements for the Indian Air Force (₹13,470 crores)