Rafale case: UPA Govt criticised for not closing deal

The Supreme Court on Friday came down strongly on the Congress-led UPA government for its failure to close the previous deal of purchasing 126 fighter jets even after three years of negotiations with Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale jets. Re

The Supreme Court on Friday came down strongly on the Congress-led UPA government for its failure to close the previous deal of purchasing 126 fighter jets even after three years of negotiations with Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale jets.

“It is a fact that the long negotiations for procurement of 126 MMRCAs (medium multi-role combat aircraft) have not produced any result, and merely conjecturing that the initial RFP (request for proposal) could have resulted in a contract is of no use. The hard fact is that not only was the contract not coming forth but the negotiations had come practically to an end, resulting in a recall of the RFP,” the apex court said in its ruling.

A three-member bench, headed by the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, on Friday dismissed a bunch of petitions seeking an investigation into the India-France government-to-government deal to acquire 36 (two squadrons) of French fighters.

While recounting the history of the deal, the verdict mentioned two specific reasons because of which the previous negotiations could not be concluded – (1) the issue of the man-hours as Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited asked for 2.7 times more man-hours compared to Dassault to manufacture 108 aircraft as per the original contract and (2) issues related to contractual obligations and liability on the 108 aircraft that was to be made in India.

“The aforesaid issues are stated to have been unresolved for more than three years. Such delay is said to have impacted the cost of acquisition, as the offer was with ‘in-built escalation’ and was influenced by Euro-Rupee exchange rate variations. The stalemate resulted in the process of RFP withdrawal being initiated in March 2015,” says the judgement.


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Congress veteran A K Antony was the Defence Minister when the MMRCA trial, evaluation and negotiations took place.

The acceptance of necessity was granted by the Defence Ministry in June 2007 and trials were completed in 2011. Dassault Aviation was named L-1 in January 2012, leaving nearly three years for the UPA government to close the deal.

“In this interregnum period adversaries of the country inducted modern aircraft and upgraded their older versions. This included induction of even 5th generation stealth fighter aircraft of almost 20 squadrons, effectively reducing the combat potential of our defence forces,” says the judgement.

 

 

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Rafale case: UPA Govt criticised for not closing deal

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