Raphael sold to India: Judicial inquiry ordered by France

Raphael-Kand has taken a new turn. France has ordered a judicial inquiry into allegations of corruption in the sale of sophisticated French warplanes to India. A judge has been appointed for that. France’s Financial Crimes Suppression Agency (PNF) reported this on Friday.

Following the decision, India’s opposition Congress on Saturday demanded the formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe Raphael’s corruption. Party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala made the demand at a press conference yesterday, saying the only way out was to form a JPC. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself should have taken the initiative in this regard. In the 2019 elections, the issue was raised by the Congress. The Congress alleges that the new agreement signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with France’s Dassault Aviation by canceling their tenure was not in the country’s interest. Because, the Congress had agreed to buy 128 Rafale warplanes for 69 thousand crore rupees. Canceling that, the Modi government agreed to buy 36 aircraft for Rs 59,000 crore. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), a state-owned company in India, would have benefited from the deal during the Congress period. Complaints about Raphael also reached the Supreme Court. There the government presented their statement in a sealed envelope. The government argued that it would not be right to release all information about Raphael in the interests of the country’s security. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government, saying it did not consider it necessary to investigate the Raphael case. A bench headed by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said that the plea for reconsideration of the case was not substantiated. Apart from that, there was no evidence of bias with any private company. Shortly after his retirement, Ranjan Gogoi became a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament.

Recently, a French media outlet accused Dassault Aviation of giving a gift of 1 million euros or 90 million rupees to the mediator of the agreement. They have also made allegations of corruption. It also publishes some documents related to that. On that basis, the French government ordered a judicial inquiry. Earlier, the government’s Financial Crimes Suppression Department had rejected the demand for an investigation in 2016, saying there was no proper evidence. This time, the investigation order of that agency may increase the discomfort of the ruling party of India.

They have not been able to present any convincing evidence in favor of the 1 million euros that Daso has shown as an unaccounted expense. They claim that they made 50 replicas of Raphael for 500,000 euros as a gift. But they could not submit any evidence. There is no account of 1 million euros.

This decision of the French government has once again made the Congress happy. Randeep Surjewala said that Rahul Gandhi’s allegations are gradually being proved to be true. Only JPCE can uncover the extent and nature of this corruption.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has also questioned the Raphael deal. Their report to parliament said Dassault Aviation was not complying with the terms of the agreement. They are not accepting the assistance that was supposed to be given to DRDO, a research institute of the Indian Ministry of Defense.France has ordered judicial enquiry into the Rafale deal with India.

French online journal, Mediapart, has reported that a French judge has been appointed to head a probe into the Rs. 59,000 crore Rafale deal with India for 36 fighter jets.

According to the report, the judge will probe suspected “corruption and favouritism” in the inter-governmental deal that was signed in 2016.

The report says that the probe was formally opened on June 14. It was confirmed on Friday by the financial crimes branch of the French public prosecution services.

Mediapart had earlier reported that the former head of the financial crimes branch of France’s public prosecution services, Éliane Houlette, shelved an investigation into alleged evidence of corruption in the Rafale jet deal despite the objection of colleagues.Her successor as head of the PNF, Jean-François Bohnert, has decided to support the opening of a judicial probe, the news portal says.

In India, the Rafale deal has been controversial with the Opposition, led by the Congress, claiming that the NDA increased the price for each Rafale aircraft three times than the initial bid under the UPA government. Under NDA, the price is at ,670 crore for each aircraft while it was ¹526 crore under UPA, the Congress alleged.

“Corruption in the Rafale deal has come out clearly now. The stand of the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi has been vindicated today after the French government has ordered a probe,” he told reporters at a press conference.

However, there was no immediate reaction from the Indian government or the BJP.

The Mediapart said the probe into the inter-governmental deal signed in 2016 was formally opened on June 14.

“A judicial probe into suspected corruption has been opened in France over the 7.8-billion-euro sale to India in 2016 of 36 Dassault-built Rafale fighter aircraft,” the Mediapart reported on the latest development on the controversial deal.

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