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SC to hear new plea on alleged Rafale corruption after 2 weeks

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New Delhi, Apr 12: The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a PIL seeking inquiry into the Rafale deal in the light of recent reports in a French news portal alleging payment of bribe by Dassault Aviation to an Indian middleman.

Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said the court will take up the petition after two weeks when a lawyer requested him to list his petition.

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Advocate Manohar Lal Sharma has moved the SC seeking an independent investigation after new revelations by a French media portal reported that the aircraft manufacturers, Dassault Aviation, had paid 1 million euro to a controversial Indian middleman.

The PIL has made Prime Minister Narendra Modi Respondent No. 1. Union of India and CBI are respondents No.2 and 3. The PIL entirely based on new revelations by the French portal urges the Supreme Court to take cognizance of the news report.

However, Dassault Aviation has rejected fresh allegations of corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal with India, saying no violations were reported in the frame of the contract.

Rejecting the allegations, a Dassault Aviation spokesperson said,'numerous controls are 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 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 French media report said that Dassault claimed the money was paid for 50 replicas of Rafale jets and the order was given to an Indian defence company.

It also mentioned that the inspectors of the AFA were given no proof that these models were made. Following the allegations, the Indian company on Tuesday released a statement and tax invoices stating that the allegations were totally unfounded.

The NDA government had inked a Rs 59,000-crore deal on September 23, 2016 to procure 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation after a nearly seven-year exercise to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force did not fructify during the UPA regime.

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