Rafale deal | Supreme Court allows withdrawal of plea seeking probe, cancel of purchase

Supreme Court says ‘no case is made out to exercise jurisdiction’

August 29, 2022 01:01 pm | Updated 05:40 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Indian Air Force (IAF) Rafale taking off, during the inauguration of Aero India 2021, airshow at Yelahanka Air Force Station, in Bengaluru. File

Indian Air Force (IAF) Rafale taking off, during the inauguration of Aero India 2021, airshow at Yelahanka Air Force Station, in Bengaluru. File | Photo Credit: Murali Kumar K.

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed advocate M.L. Sharma to withdraw his plea to summon documents from French investigation agency, Agence Francaise Anticorruption (AFA), allegedly showing that aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation paid €1 million to an Indian company in connection with the 2016 Indo-French Rafale deal.

"Having gone through the facts and circumstances, no case is made out to exercise jurisdiction," a Bench of Chief Justice U.U. Lalit and S. Ravindra Bhat concluded in its order.

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The petition had made Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the first respondent, followed by Sushen Mohan Gupta, Defsys Solutions Private Limited, Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited, the Centre, and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

During the short hearing Mr. Sharma said his petition was filed in 2021. Time has passed and he would focus solely on urging the court to issue a Letter Rogatory to summon the document allegedly showing the payment of the money.

"The document should be called forth. The matter is serious," Mr. Sharma submitted.

The petition had originally urged the top court to order the registration of an F.I.R. under various offences, including cheating, criminal breach of trust, sections under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and the Official Secrets Act.

It had urged the court to issue "appropriate writ direction for cancelling/quashing agreement of September 23, 2016 for the purchase of 36 Rafale jet fighters from Dassault France for being hit by fraud, corruption, and offence under the Official Secrets Act and to recover entire advanced money with penalty and to blacklist Dassault". Mr. Sharma said the first four respondents named in the petition should be prosecuted.

Also read | Rafale scam trail ends at PM’s door, says Congress

"To prosecute them under the supervision of this court coupled with further direction to issue appropriate writ for quashing inter-government agreement of September 2016, which was the outcome of bribe/corruption," the petition had said.

"The September 2016 deal was signed by the defence ministers of India and France and called 'Rafale deal', in which India would pay about ₹58,000 crore or €7.8 billion for 36 off-the-shelf Dassault Rafale twin-engine fighters couple with 15% advance payment of this cost. As per the deal, India will also get spares and weaponry, including the Meteor missile, considered one of the most advanced in the world," the petition had said.

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