The Indian Government complied with an apex court order and submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court in connection with the Rafale deal on Monday.
According to reports the documents given by the center claimed that the negotiations on the Rafale deal went on for about a year and approval of the Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS), being the Competent Financial Authority, was taken before signing the Inter-Government Agreement.
Modi government has also assured the Supreme Court that ‘all requisite steps were taken in the Rafale deal’.
In that nine page affidavit the central government stated that ‘The procurement process as laid down in the Defense Procurement Procedure-2013 was followed in procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft’.
Modi government said Rafale manufacturer Dassault or its weapon vendor is yet to submit a formal proposal in the prescribed manner indicating details of Indian offset partners and products for offset discharge, which means Dassault has not yet formally conveyed to Indian government the role of Reliance Defense as its Indian offset partner.
Further, the centre stated that till Oct 2019 no offset partner can get any money under agreement from India.
The document was supplied to the petitioners as per the SC’s October 31 order.
However, there was no mention of Rafale pricing in that nine pages affidavit.
The top court had said that the entire details, including the steps in the decision making the process for the procurement of jets, which could ‘legitimately’ be brought into the public domain, be made available to the parties who have filed petitions before it in the matter.
The petitions seeking the probe in the Rafale deal were first filed by advocates Manohar Lal Sharma and Vineet Dhanda. Later, AAP MP Sanjay Singh had also filed the petition and then former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan too filed a joint petition.
Furthermore, the top court had also asked the Centre to place before it in a sealed cover within ten days the pricing details of 36 Rafale fighter jets India is buying from France.
The SC had posted the matter for hearing on November 14 and had categorically told the government of India that if the pricing detail is ‘exclusive’ and could not be shared with the court, then the Centre should file an affidavit in this regard.
But the court also clarified that it did not want details on technical particulars.
A justice bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that it was not issuing a formal notice to the Centre as it has not considered the averments with regard to the allegations of corruption made in two Public Interest Litigations filed by two separate lawyers.
While, the central government in its affidavit claimed that it has taken approval by CCS, it also added in its affidavit statement that Government of India (GoI) had no role in selecting offset partner and that the agreement (joint venture) between Reliance and Dassault Aviation of France was signed without the involvement of the Centre.
Further it stated that “An approval of the Defense Acquisition Council was taken. It was the Indian team that negotiated with the French side”.
The Dassault Aviation-made Rafale deal was renegotiated during the tenure of French President Franois Hollande, who was succeeded by previous French President Emmanuel Macron.
The opposition party Congress has accused the Modi-led government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of renegotiating the price of the Rafale aircraft and purchasing it at a price three times higher than what was finalized by the previous UPA government.
The Congress scion Rahul Gandhi asked the Modi government to reveal the price of the aircraft, as negotiated by the National Democratic Alliance government.
Gandhi has also alleged corruption in the Rafale deal and favoritism towards the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Group, the charge which has denied by both the government and the company.
The next hearing on the Rafale issue will be held on November 14.