New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: A judge has been appointed in France to investigate alleged favouritism and corruption in the 2016 purchase by Indian government of 36 Rafale fighter jets, French media reported this weekend.
A judicial investigation into alleged corruption was first opened on June 14 in France in what the French investigative website Mediapart reported as a 7.8 billion euro deal between Dassault Aviation, manufacturer of Rafale fighter jet and the Indian government.

How Rafale deal has come back to haunt Dassault Aviation again?

The judicial probe in France was ordered following the reports by French journalist Yann Philippin in Mediapart, which claimed that despite Dassault Aviation investing 94 per cent of the total value in the Reliance-Dassault joint venture, Reliance was given 51 per cent shares of the joint venture. The report also claims that Sushen Gupta, one of the arrested accused in Augusta-westland VVIP chopper scam had access to classified documents of defence ministry due to which, the report adds, Dassault Aviation knew the specifics of what Indian side required much before it was officially told. In another report, Mediapart claims the existence of “suspicious payments” made to a company linked to Sushen Gupta, the Augusta Westland chopper scam accused.

Following the Mediapart reports, a complaint was made by Sherpa, an NGO that works for the victims of financial frauds. With this, France’s National Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) appointed a judge to investigate “corruption” and “favouritism” in the 2016 multi-billion dollar deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale jets.

What next?

The judicial probe in France usually takes place in exceptional cases. In such cases, the investigating judge has special powers that doesn’t require him/her to take prior approvals from other authorities. The case goes to the trial only if the evidence is found during judicial probe.

Rafale judicial probe in France: Impact on Indian politics

The judicial probe has implications on Indian politics at least for the immediate future. Congress has described the development as "a scandalous expose of Rafale scam" that has allegedly led to the "loss to public exchequer" and has subsequently demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) investigation into the matter. The ruling BJP on the other hand called the judicial probe in France on Rafale deal as an outcome of an NGO’s complaint which the BJP says, cannot be seen as a matter of corruption.

The BJP also accused the Congress of spreading lies and misconceptions over the issue.

The Rs 59,000-crore Rafale deal was earlier in massive controversy in India with the opposition led by Congress party claiming that the government had purchased the Rafale fighter jets at an inflated cost while going on to accuse that the offset contract was given to the privately-owned Reliance Defence instead of the public-sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

The Supreme Court in 2019 had dismissed a set of petitions demanding investigation into the government’s purchase of the 36 Rafale fighter jets from France. The top court had said that there was no ground to order an FIR into the case.

Posted By: Mukul Sharma