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Rafale jet deal: Timeline, changes by UPA and Modi government

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New Delhi, Dec 14: The Supreme Court on Friday dismisses all the petitions seeking a court-monitored investigation into the Rafale deal. The SC Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, said that the need for aircraft and quality of aircraft not in doubt and detailed scrutiny is not required.

Rafale jet deal: Timeline, changes by UPA and Modi government

Who are the petitioners?

Advocate M L Sharma was the first petitioner in the case. Later, another lawyer Vineet Dhanda had moved the apex court with the plea for court-monitored probe into the deal. AAP leader Sanjay Singh has also filed a petition against the fighter jet deal.

After the three petitions were filed, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and activist advocate Prashant Bhushan had moved the apex court with a plea for a direction to the CBI to register FIR for alleged irregularities in the deal.

Thumbs up for Rafale deal, SC says no irregularities found

What was the deal finalised by Modi government?

During his visit to France, PM Narendra Modi on April 10 announced India will purchase 36 Rafale jets in a government-to-government agreement. After the announcement, questions were raised by the Opposition on how the PM finalised the deal without the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security.

A joint statement issued on April 10, 2015, after talks between Modi and then French President Francois Hollande, said they agreed to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement for the supply of 36 Rafale jets on terms that would be better than conveyed by Dassault Aviation as part of a separate process underway.

What was the UPA deal?

India began the process to buy a fleet of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) in 2007 after the Defence Ministry, headed then by Congress leader A K Antony, cleared the proposal from the Indian Air Force.

The contenders for the mega deal were Lockheed Martin's F-16s, Eurofighter Typhoon, Russia's MiG-35, Sweden's Gripen, Boeing's F/A-18s and Dassault Aviation's Rafale.

After a long-drawn process, bids were opened in December 2012 and Dassault Aviation emerged as L-1 (lowest bidder). In the original proposal, 18 planes were to be manufactured in France and 108 in India in collaboration with the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

There were lengthy negotiations between the then UPA government and Dassault on prices and transfer of technology. The final negotiations continued till early 2014 but the deal could not go through.

Details of the negotiated price per Rafale were not officially announced, but it was suggested by the then UPA government that the size of the deal would be USD 10.2 billion. The Congress claimed per aircraft rate including avionics and weapons was zeroed in at Rs 5.26 billion (As per Euro exchange rates prevailing then).

The Final deal?

India and France signed Euro 7.87-billion (Rs 590 billion approximately) deal on September 23, 2016, for 36 Rafale jets. The delivery of the aircraft will start from September 2019. The deal was finalised on the basis of the procurement procedure followed under the UPA government.

The allegations?

The Congress has been accusing massive irregularities in the deal, alleging that the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 16.70 billion as against Rs 5.26 billion finalised by the UPA government. The party has also demanded answers from the government on why state-run aerospace major HAL was not involved in the deal.

The Congress has also sought to know price details of the aircraft and how the rate per aircraft has gone up from Rs 5.26 billion to Rs 16.7 billion. The government has refused to share the details, citing a secrecy clause of a 2008 pact between India and France.

Congress' A K Antony, who was defence minister in 2008 when India and France inked an inter-governmental agreement on defence procurement, said the government's claim that the secrecy clause was forcing it to not reveal price details of the deal was "totally wrong".

The Congress has also alleged the government was benefitting the Reliance Defence Ltd (RDL) through the deal as the company has set up a joint venture with Dassault Aviation to execute the offset obligation for the Rs 590 billion deal.

On October 3, 2016, RDL and Dassault Aviation announced a joint venture (JV) in the aerospace sector and a year later, foundation stone of a manufacturing facility was laid in Mihan, Nagpur.

(With PTI inputs)

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