The Government of India, on September 23, 2016, inked a deal with the French government and Dassault Aviation to procure 36 Rafale jets. This deal was preceded by a failed effort to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) during the UPA regime.
French Investigative journal Mediapart has now made fresh claims that "bogus invoices"
were used by French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation to pay at least 7.5 million euros (over Rs 64 crore) to a "middleman" to help it secure the procurement deal with India.
The alleged 'kickbacks' were paid to the "middleman" in Mauritius between 2007 and 2012, Mediapart reported. It is important to note that the Congress-led UPA was in power from 2004 to 2014.
In April 2015, PM Modi announced the Government of India's decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets. This was a year after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) withdrew the 126 aircraft deal signed between Dassault Aviation and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
A bench of the Supreme Court led by the then Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi took up petitions challenging the procurement of Rafale aircraft in 2018 and found no impropriety. In 2019, the Apex court reserved its order on pleas filed against its 2018 judgement in the Rafale case.
However, the French appointed a judge in July of this year to lead a "highly sensitive" judicial probe
into alleged "corruption and favouritism" in the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale fighter jet deal with India.
Here are 5 latest developments in the Rafale row:1.
Reacting to the Mediapart report, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said on Tuesday that the Indian National Congress, the initials of which are "INC", should be referred to as the "I Need Commission".
Patra said that 10 Janpath, the official residence of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, was the "address of corruption" until the NDA came to power in 2014. He also added that Sushen Mohan Gupta, the alleged middleman, is already in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a corruption case.
Earlier in the day, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera held a press conference where he demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Rafale deal. Khera accused the ruling BJP of trying to "cover-up" corruption in the procurement deal inked during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first tenure.
Rahul Gandhi, who is not in the country at the moment, said in a tweet on Tuesday, "When the truth is with you in every step, then what is there to worry about? My Congress colleagues - keep fighting like this against the corrupt central government. Don't stop, don't get tired, don't be afraid," Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi, using the hashtag "#RafaleScam".
Neither the Ministry of Defence (MoD) nor Dassault Aviation has reacted to Mediapart's findings.