France has opened the investigation into the alleged ‘corruption’ and ‘favouritism’ in the Rafale deal signed with India in 2016 for the sale of 36 Dassault built Rafale fighter jets.
The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) of France has appointed a judge to lead a judicial probe in the 7.8 billion euros deal.
The new probe is an outcome of a series of reports done by French publication Mediapart on the Rafale deal.
The financial crime branch of the French public prosecution services (PNF) has said that the investigation will look into allegations of ‘corruption’ and ‘favouritism’ in the pact for 36 fighter planes between the Indian government and Dassault.
However, the manufacturer of the Rafale Aircraft, Dassault Aviation has denied all the allegations.
The original contract that involved Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the supply of 126 fighter jets was won by Dassault but the subsequent talks between the two sides reportedly broke down.
Rafale deal between India and Dassault Aviations –
Narendra Modi government in 2016 signed an inter-governmental deal with France for the sale of 36 Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft.
The deal, however, came under intense political scrutiny in India and in France after the Opposition parties alleged that Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Defence had been signed on as the offset partner by weapons manufacturer Dassault Aviation, even though the company had no previous experience.
Congress party alleged that the Modi government signed the contract with France at a much higher price than negotiated during the UPA rule.
Rahul Gandhi and other Opposition leaders demanded that the government must reveal the price of Rafale.
Citing the ‘Secrecy clause’ of the deal, BJP government rejected the demand of price disclosure.
Congress party also alleged the ruling government of favouritism.
The first real blow to the Centre came when French publication Mediapart interviewed former French president Francois Hollande who revealed that he had no choice in selecting the Indian offset partner and the name of Reliance was given by the Indian side.
2 weeks before Modi announced his new 60K Cr Rafale deal,Dassault signed an agreement with Ambani to set up a new JV&provide up to 159 million euros, representing 94% of the total, while Reliance would provide just the remaining 10 million euros&influence!https://t.co/QDuFTpzgz4
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) July 3, 2021
It needs to be mentioned that the Supreme Court of India heard a public interest case on the deal and said it saw nothing wrong in it in November 2019.