Rafale Jet Deal is India's 'biggest Defence Scam': Congress Leader
Aircel-Maxis Case

Ahmedabad, Dec 21 (PTI) Senior Congress leader Mohan Prakash Friday alleged the Rafale fighter jet deal is the country's "biggest defence scam" and sought to know why the Modi government is shying away from a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the mega contract.

Referring to the apex court's recent verdict on the Rafale deal, he alleged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government were guilty of "presenting falsehood to the Supreme Court".

"Rafale fighter jet deal is India's biggest defence scam and is an open and shut case of corruption. The Modi government is guilty of presenting falsehood to the Supreme Court and committing perjury as well as breaching the privilege of Parliament," Prakash told reporters here.

"The Modi government is shying away from constituting a JPC. Why? Because the one who had signed the deal will have to face the inquiry by the JPC," alleged the former AICC general secretary.

He alleged the Modi government had not only caused losses to the public exchequer, but also compromised national security.

"Modi is the champion in institutionalising corruption. He has done that in Gujarat by causing loss to state-run entity GSPC," the Congress leader claimed.

He said his party did not approach the SC over the contract as the party feels the court is not an appropriate forum to decide on issues of corruption, specifications, pricing and "crony capitalism" in the Rafale deal.

"This can only be done by a JPC. We have already made our stand clear in November. Even the apex court in its December 14 verdict concedes it is not an appropriate forum and can not decide issues of pricing, specifications and other technical matters," Prakash added.

Last Friday, the SC had dismissed the petitions challenging the deal between India and France for procurement of 36 Rafale jets, saying there was no occasion to "really doubt the decision-making process" warranting setting aside of the contract.

The apex court had rejected the pleas, which sought lodging of an FIR and a court-monitored probe alleging irregularities in the Rs 58,000 crore deal, in which both the countries have entered into an inter-governmental agreement.

The Court had said that perception of individuals cannot be the basis of a "fishing and roving enquiry" by the court in such matters and it cannot "sit in judgement" over the wisdom of government's decision to go in for purchase of 36 aircrafts in place of 126.

It noted that process for procurement of 36 Rafale jets was concluded on September 23, 2016 and no questions were raised at that time and the petitions were later filed after reported statement of former French President Francois Hollande with regard to selection of Indian offset partners.

On the offset partner, the bench noted that this issue had "triggered" the litigation as petitioners had alleged that government gave a benefit to Reliance Aerostructure Ltd by compelling Dassault Aviation to enter into a contract with them at the cost of public enterprise, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

"We do not find any substantial material on record to show that this is a case of commercial favouritism to any party by the Indian Government, as the option to choose the IOP (Indian offset partners) does not rest with the Indian Government," it said

The ruling BJP and the Modi government have repeatedly denied any irregularities in the deal and accused the main opposition party of spreading "lies" over the issue.

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