The Indian National Congress party has demanded a probe in Rafale defence deal after a French investigative news publication alleged that France’s Dassault Aviation paid €1.1 million to a “middleman”.
Shortly after the report was made public, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala held a press conference where he said that the French news agency’s report has proved that Rahul Gandhi’s repeated allegations of corruption in the deal are correct.
In the past, the Modi-led central government has repeatedly denied the allegations. However, after a French investigative news company reported the story, there has been no response from the BJP or the government on the charges.
The Congress spokesperson said that according to the French news agency’s report, the French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA) investigated the deal and found that after signing the defence deal in 2016, Dassault Aviation allegedly paid €1.1 million to an Indian company - Defsys Solutions.
“Does this now not require a full and independent probe into India's biggest defence deal to find out as to how much bribery and commission in reality, if any, was paid and to whom in the Indian government,” Surjewala said, adding that Dassault showed the amount of €1.1 million as "gifts to clients".
The Congress spokesperson pointed out that the deal violated the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) and the Integrity Clause. He pointed out that an Integrity Clause is present in every defence purchase contract that clearly states that there can be no middlemen or commission payment or bribe.
Surjewala pointed out that according to the DPP, any evidence of middleman or commission or bribery has serious penal consequences that include banning of the supplier, cancelling the contract, registration of an FIR and imposition of heavy financial penalties on the company.
The Congress spokesperson has said that the “gifts to clients” is has violated the defence contract. “Doesn’t this require an imposition of heavy financial penalties on Dassault, banning of the company, registering an FIR and other penal consequences,” he asked at the press conference.
Surjewala also asked how a middleman can be permitted in a "government to government" defence contract. “How can a “middleman” and “payment of Commission” be permitted in a government-to-government defence contract or any defence procurement in India in violation of the mandatory DPP,” he asked.
The Rafale deal controversy was a topic of discussion in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Many petitions were filed before the Supreme Court alleging corruption. The Court agreed to hear the petitions and asked the Centre to provide details in a sealed cover. However, on December 14, 2018, the Apex Court dismissed all petitions against the deal and gave the Modi government a clean chit. However, the SC clean chit did not stop Rahul Gandhi from repeatedly bringing up the corruption allegations against the Modi government in the deal during his election rallies.