Rafale deal: Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie knock at CBI’s doors

Their complaint alleges abuse of authority by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also targets businessman Anil Ambani, alleging he received “undue” advantage.

October 04, 2018 06:54 pm | Updated 09:28 pm IST - New Delhi

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former Union Minister Arun Shourie outside the CBI headquarters after submitting a complaint on Rafale deal in New Delhi on October 4, 2018.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former Union Minister Arun Shourie outside the CBI headquarters after submitting a complaint on Rafale deal in New Delhi on October 4, 2018.

Former Union Minister Arun Shourie and lawyer Prashant Bhushan on October 4 met Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Kumar Verma and sought a probe into the Rafale aircraft deal and the associated offset contract.

After the meeting, Mr. Bhushan told reporters that the CBI chief said he would look into the complaint carefully and take appropriate action. Mr. Shourie and Mr. Bhushan submitted a 32-page complaint under the Prevention of Corruption Act, besides documents that also include media reports.

“The CBI may have to seek an approval from the government before registering an FIR, if specific officials are named. As I understand, it is not required for a preliminary enquiry,” said Mr. Bhushan.

A CBI official confirmed that the complaint had been received. It alleges that days before the new deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets was signed, Dassault was in the final stages of negotiations with India for 126 aircraft and the proposal for HAL to be Dassault’s partner in India for manufacturing through transfer of technology was on the table.

The complaint lodged by Mr. Bhushan and Mr. Shourie alleges abuse of authority by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also targets businessman Anil Ambani, as chairman of Reliance ADA group of companies, alleging he received “undue” advantage.

Mr. Ambani had earlier strongly refuted the charges levelled by the Congress pertaining to the deal.

Dassault had picked Reliance Defence as its partner to meet the offset obligations. Dismissing allegations by the Congress-led Opposition, the Centre has on several occasions said that it had no role whatsoever in the selection of Dassault’s offset partner.

India signed the agreement with France in September 2017 for the 36 “fly away” Rafale fighters, over a year after the Prime Minister announced the proposal during his visit to Paris. The first jet is scheduled to be delivered in September 2019.

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