French NGO seeks clarification on Rafale deal

French NGO seeks clarification on Rafale deal

A French NGO that claims to fight economic crimes has filed a complaint with the French Financial Prosecutor's Office seeking clarification under which conditions 36 fighter aircraft produced by Dassault Aviation were sold to India in 2016 and the choice of its Indian partner, Reliance Defence, led by Anil Ambani.

In a press release, Sherpa, the NGO, states that the complaint follows the complaint lodged on the October 4, 2018, by a former Union minister and an anti-corruption lawyer with the CBI against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "abuse of authority" and " grant of undue advantages " in connection with the sale of Rafale, and the facts revealed by Mediapart and Sherpa’s investigation.

READ: Full text of Sherpa's press release

India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September last year for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore, nearly one-and-half years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the proposal during a visit to Paris. The delivery of the jets is scheduled to begin from September 2019.

A huge controversy over the Rafale deal has erupted in India after a report in the French media quoted former president Francois Hollande as saying that the selection of the Indian company in the Rafale deal was done at the behest of New Delhi.

Hollande said that the Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for the French aerospace giant in the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale deal and France did not have a choice. 

His comments to 'Mediapart', a French-language publication, triggered sharp reactions from the Opposition parties which have been accusing the government of massive irregularities in the deal and benefiting Reliance Defence despite not having any experience in the aerospace sector.