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Monday 6 April 2020

SC to hear plea seeking stay on Rafale deal next week

The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday agreed to hear next week a petition seeking a stay on the Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud considered the submissions of advocate ML Sharma that his plea is listed for urgent hearing.

In his petition, Sharma has alleged discrepancies in the fighter jet deal with France and sought a stay on it.

Sharma has claimed in his plea that the inter-government agreement to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets must be quashed as it was an “outcome of corruption” and not ratified by Parliament under Article 253 of the Constitution.

The petition has also sought FIR and prosecution of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former defence Minister and present Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, business tycoon Anil Ambani and French armament firm Dassault with a recovery of the amount.

A similar plea was filed in the apex court in March this year seeking an independent probe into the Rafale deal and disclosure of the cost involved in the deal before Parliament.

The plea, filed by Congress leader Tehseen S Poonawalla, had sought issuance of a direction against the Centre as to why the Union Cabinet’s approval was not sought as part of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) before signing the procurement deal with France on 23 September 2016.

Rafale deal is a defence agreement signed between the governments of India and France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in a fly-away condition as a part of the upgrading process of Indian Air Force equipment.

The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation.

Indian Air Force had advanced a proposal to buy 126 fighter aircraft in August 2007 and floated a tender. Following this, an invitation was sent to various aviation companies to participate in the bidding process.

Poonawalla had claimed in his plea that the MoD had withdrawn the 2007 tender for procurement of 126 fighter planes, while the deal announced for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft was altogether a fresh procurement.

His plea said that in 2012, the deal for 126 fighter aircrafts was proposed by the UPA government, and out of the total of 126 number, 18 Rafale fighter jets were to be delivered by Dassault Aviation company in a fly-away condition, while the remaining 108 were to be manufactured in India at the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) under a transfer of technology agreement.

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