Rafale Deal: Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, Prashant Bhushan move Supreme Court seeking CBI probe

Rafale Deal: Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, Prashant Bhushan move Supreme Court seeking CBI probe

Murali Krishnan

Former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan have approached the Supreme Court seeking Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Rafale deal.

The petition states that they are aggrieved by the non-registeration of FIR by the CBI on a written complaint that was made to the CBI on October 4, 2018.

The 32-page complaint (attached at the bottom of the story) with 46 Annexes detailed prima facie evidence of the commission of cognizable offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act by public servants occupying the highest of public offices in the country. The complete inaction of the CBI on the complaint made is a gross dereliction of its statutory duty to register an FIR on receiving information that discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, the petition states.

The petition then delves into the Rafale Deal. It sets out the procedure for the purchase of defence equipments as laid down in Defence Procurement Procedure.

It then proceeds to trace the history of the deal.

In 2007 after going through the defence procedure, tenders were issued by the Ministry of Defence for the purchase of 126 fighter aircrafts and it was specified in the Request for Proposal that 18 of these aircrafts 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. Six companies had applied and after extensive trials by the Air Force two were short listed. After that the financial bids were opened and Dassault Company manufacturing the Rafale aircraft was declared the lowest tenderer, price negotiations began. These negotiations were at a very advanced stage (95% 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 Aircrafts in a ‘fly-away’ condition without any transfer of technology and make in India, the petition states.

Complaint makes a direct allegation against the Prime Minister
Complaint makes a direct allegation against the Prime Minister

As per the petition, the new deal involved 50% 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.

The petition contends that when the final contract was signed after price negotiations, it transpired that the price of the aircraft had been increased to more than double to what was under consideration in the old deal of 126 aircrafts.

The petition alleges that the following acts were committed by various public servants which amount to offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

– The highest ranking public officials, unilaterally, in violation of all mandatory procedures, without obtaining any SQRs from the IAF, or any decision of the Categorisation Committee or any Acceptance of Necessity from the Defence Acquisition Council, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the French regarding purchase of just 36 Rafale aircrafts, all in a ‘fly away’ condition with no Transfer of Technology and no Make in India.

– They did so after virtually scrapping the earlier procurement process for 126 aircrafts, which had followed all due procedures, and was in accordance with the specifications of the Indian Air Force. In the process, all important strategic objectives of the earlier procurement procedure that were on the basis of institutions authorised to do so, were eschewed. Consequently, just 36 aircrafts were arbitrarily purchased, with no make in India and no Transfer of Technology against the determination of IAF Services Head Quarters, the Categorisation Committee and the Defence Acquisition Council.

– Under the earlier deal, HAL was to be the production agent for Dassault in India and there was no scope for offsets. That this act of unilaterally changing the deal by bypassing all laid down procedures, was to ensure that Mr. Ambani could be brought in as an offset partner for the purpose of obtaining for him offsets worth thousands of crores.

– The French government, as well as the Dassault Aviation company, were told that this contract of 36 ‘ready to fly’ aircraft will be only given to Dassault Aviation, if they gave the major part of the offset contracts in this deal to Mr. Anil Ambani’s company.

– Anil Ambani’s recently incorporated company had no credibility or even eligibility to be an offset partner for Dassault. Therefore, the thousands of crores to be received by RAL through the offset contract are substantially in the nature of commissions.

– The price of the aircrafts in the new deal has been increased from approximately 700 crores per aircraft to over 1600 crores per aircraft without any legitimate public interest.

Complaint<em> states that Anil Ambani’s recently incorporated company had no credibility or even eligibility to be an offset partner for Dassault. (Photo: Reliance ADAG)</em>
Complaint states that Anil Ambani’s recently incorporated company had no credibility or even eligibility to be an offset partner for Dassault. (Photo: Reliance ADAG)

The petition states that because of the nature of the persons involved, there is enormous pressure on the CBI to not 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 petitioners have made the following prayers:

Direct CBI to register an FIR on the complaint that was made by the Petitioners

Direct CBI to investigate offences disclosed in the complaint in a time bound manner and submit periodic status reports to the court.

Direct Central government to not transfer the CBI officials tasked with investigation of the offences mentioned in the complaint.

Read the petition below


Read the Complaint to the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Rafale Deal


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