Audio clip claims Rafale file implicates Prime Minister

Demands for a JPC to investigate the controversial Rafale deal got a boost on Wednesday following emergence of an audio clip that insinuates that there is a file which implicates the PM in Rafale deal

Audio clip claims Rafale file implicates Prime Minister

NH Web Desk

Does Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar have a sensitive file on Rafale implicating the Prime Minister? Congress on Wednesday released an audio clip of the Goa health minister making the allegation.

While the chief minister may well deny it, the audio clip appears to have bolstered demands for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate the Rafale deal.

The release of the clip on a day when the Lok Sabha was expected to discuss the Rafale deal and the Government was planning to move the Supreme Court for ‘corrections’ in its judgment, would have embarrassed the Government hugely.

A Review petition is likely to be filed before the Supreme Court on its judgment on a batch of PILs seeking an independent probe in the Rafale deal.

Only one of the four petitions, filed by a lawyer, had asked for the deal to be scrapped. One had asked for direction to reveal pricing details while the other two had asked for a probe into the manner in which the deal was changed, the number of planes to be supplied reduced, the price per plane increased and a public sector unit junked by the Government in favour of an Anil Ambani firm which in April, 2015 had no land, no experience in aviation and no employee either.

The court, however, accepted the version given by the Government in a sealed cover with its copies not made available to the petitioners. Petitioners and observers believe the Supreme Court erred in seemingly letting the Government off the hook without eliciting satisfactory explanations to various questions raised.

The Government is also likely to move the Supreme Court for making corrections in the judgment. It has claimed that the Government made a mistake in interpreting what the Government said ‘happens’ into what ‘happened’ ! The Government had informed the court that pricing details were shared with the Comptroller & Auditor General of India ( CAG) which sends a report to the Public Accounts Committee and thereafter a ‘redacted’ version of the report is laid before the Parliament.

The court in its judgment held that the pricing details had been shared with the CAG, a report had been sent to the PAC and an edited report had been placed before Parliament. The Government, embarrassed by the fact that there is no CAG report as yet, blamed the court for not following the English language and would like the apex court to correct itself.

Besides, there are several other points also which the Supreme Court overlooked or misinterpreted.

Supreme Court: Problems between Dassault and Hindustan Aeronautics led to the PM’s announcement on April 10, 2015 when he announced the purchase of 36 Rafale jets off the shelf.

Fact: On March 13, 2015 Dassault and HAL finalized the work-share contract signaling the deal was through. On March 25 Dassault CEO declared in the presence of the HAL chief as well as the chief of the Indian Air Force that 95% of the deal had been finalised. HAL chairman is also on record saying that file notings would prove that there were no impediments.

Supreme Court: Did not find anything wrong in a private contract between Dassault and HAL being turned into an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA)

Fact: Before an IGA, the guidelines say that a Contract Negotiating Committee and a price Negotiating Committee have to finalise details, which then require to be cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council and then approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security. None of these formalities were even initiated before April 10, 2015.

Supreme Court: Accepted the Government’s version that Dassault CEO had claimed that Reliance Defence Ltd. of Anil Ambani had land near the airport, which HAL did not have.

Fact: It was the other way round. It was HAL which had land near the airport while RDL applied for land only in June, 2015.

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