Rafale deal: Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, Prashant Bhushan move SC seeking FIR
Former BJP Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court seeking registration of FIR and investigation by CBI into the Rafale deal.
The petitioners moved the apex court after the CBI "under pressure from the government" did not register an FIR on their complaint. The trio on Oct 4 had handed over a complaint to CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma, demanding registration of FIR against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for alleged abuse of public office causing undue benefit worth "tens of thousands of crores" to a crony capitalist in the Rafale jet fighter deal.
"It is clear that there is enormous pressure on the CBI because of the nature of the persons involved not to undertake this investigation," they said praying for a SC monitored probe by specially designated CBI officers.
The petition contends that the intergovernmental deal with France to purchase 36 Rafale jets announced by Modi in April 2015, was in complete violation of all laid-down defence procurement procedures.
The fresh plea by Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan claimed that in 2007 tenders were issued by the Ministry of Defence for the purchase of 126 fighter aircraft and it was specified in the Request for Proposal that 18 of these aircraft would be purchased from abroad in a 'fly-away' condition and the remaining 108 would be manufactured in India in the factory of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with transfer of technology from the foreign vendor.
The plea said that Dassault Company manufacturing the Rafale aircraft was declared the lowest tenderer and thereafter price negotiations began which were at a very advanced stage 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 and the Prime Minister on behalf of India agreed to purchase only 36 Rafale aircraft in a 'fly-away' condition without any transfer of technology and make in India.
"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 which had just been set up," it claimed.
The petitioners have also cited French media reports about former France President Francois Hollande as saying that India had proposed the Indian private entity as the partner for the deal, to substantiate their charges of the deal being in violation of procedural mandates.
It also states that the French government and Rafale makers Dassault Aviation were told that the deal will materialise only if a private Indian entity was made an offset partner.
The petitioners said that the new deal gives "undue benefit" to both Dassault Aviation and the Indian company that amounted to criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The petition also seeks court's direction to ensure that CBI officers who would be probing the case are not transferred and all relevant records are not destroyed or tampered with and are transferred to the CBI.
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