A petition was filed by Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh on Monday to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the supervision of the Supreme Court to investigate the reasons for cancellation of earlier deal for the purchase of 126 Rafale fighter jets.
The petition wants the SIT to probe how the figure of 36 jets was arrived at, without the formalities associated with such a highly sensitive defence procurement.
It wants an investigation into the alterations made by the Defence Ministry about the pricing of the Rafale fighter jets in view of the earlier price of ₹526 crore per fighter weapons, India specific enhancements, maintenance support and services which resulted in the escalation of the price of each fighter jets from ₹526 crore to more than ₹1500 crore.
The petition wants an investigation into “how a novice company viz. Reliance Defence came in picture of this highly sensitive defence deal involving ₹59,000 crore without having any kind of experience and expertise in making of fighter jets”.
It has sought an explanation on why the name of 'Hindustan Aeronautics Limited' was removed from the deal?
“Whether the decision of the purchase of only 36 Rafale fighter jets instead of 126 was a compromise with the security of the country or not?” the petition asked.
“Whether the Reliance Defence or its sister concern or any other individual or intermediary company has/have influenced the decision making of the purchase of Rafale fighter jets at substantially higher prices in the backdrop of the statement given by the then President of French Republic and the investment made by the Reliance Entertainment into the Julie Gayet's Firm Rouge International was made with a purpose to influence the decision of removal of the HAL and induction of Reliance Defence as partner of the Dassault?” it asked.
The petition wants the Central Bureau of Investigation to lodge an FIR and to report the progress of investigation to the Supreme Court. Further, to “restore the earlier deal for the purchase of 126 Rafale Fighter Jets which was cancelled on June 24, 2015 by the Government of India”. Besides to bar the Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited (DRAL) from handling/manufacturing the jets and propose Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as the Indian offset partner of Dassault.
The petition may be tagged with an earlier one filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma on the same issue. A Bench led by Justice (as he was then) Ranjan Gogoi had posted Mr. Sharma’s case for October 10.