The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a fresh petition seeking an independent investigation into the Rafale deal in the light of new allegations in the deal. On a petition filed by lawyer ML Sharma, the Chief Justice said that the court will hear the plea urgently. The fresh petition comes just weeks after French online journal Mediapart reported that Dassault Aviation had paid nearly one million Euros to an Indian middleman to strike the deal. The report was based on an investigation by the country’s anti-corruption agency Agence Francaise Anticorruption (AFA), the journal claimed.
Following the allegations, Dassault Aviation issued a statement rejecting the fresh allegations of corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal with India. It said no violations were reported in the framing of the contract. A company spokesperson said that numerous controls were carried out by official organisations, including the French Anti-Corruption Agency. “No violations were reported, notably in the frame of the contract with India for the acquisition of 36 Rafales,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said Dassault Aviation, since the early 2000s, has “implemented strict internal procedures to prevent corruption, guaranteeing the integrity, ethics and reputation of the company in its industrial and commercial relations”.
The statement further said that Dassault Aviation “acts in strict compliance with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and national laws, in particular the law of December 9, 2016 known as Sapin 2”. The spokesperson said that the contract with India for the acquisition of 36 fighter jets had been established on a government-to-government basis.
“This contract, as well as the offset corresponding contract, meet the criteria established by these regulations and are being executed in full transparency between the various government and industrial partners,” the statement said. It further stated that Dassault Aviation and the Reliance Group established the Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) Joint Venture in 2017 and built a plant in Nagpur that has been producing numerous Falcon parts and pieces since 2018.
There have been allegations against the Indian government that it helped Reliance secure offset contracts from Dassault. In November 2019, a three-judge bench of then CJI Ranjan Gogoi had heard the corruption matter in detail and ruled that there was no substance in the charges and that there was no need of any probe. The Congress had been pressing for a court-monitored CBI inquiry into the deal.