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Rafale deal not done in a hurry: Centre

Defence procurement procedure was fully followed, SC told

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved the procurement of the 36 Rafale jets well over a year after the Indo-French Joint Statement to acquire the aircraft “as quickly as possible” was issued, said a government note in the Supreme Court on the Rafale deal.

The Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2013 mandates that acquisitions worth over Rs. 1,000 crore should be first cleared by the CCS.

Since 2002, over 1,100 contracts valued at Rs. 7.45 lakh crore were successfully concluded using the DPP structure, introduced after the Kargil War.

The note, submitted earlier to the court and made public on Monday as per a court order of October 31, claimed that DPP 2013 was “completely followed.”

The document showed that the CCS approved the signing of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for procurement of the 36 jets only on August 24, 2016 — well over a year after the Indo-French statement of April 10, 2015, which the note said conveyed an “intent” to acquire the jets in a fly-away condition.

The approval of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the highest body for defence procurement, was taken on May 13, 2015. Again, a month after the Indo-French statement.

The government said the DAC approval was taken “as stipulated in the DPP.”

‘Critical necessity’

The note said the joint statement was issued after the Government of India conveyed to the French government about the “critical operational necessity” for Multi-role Combat Aircraft for the Air Force. This necessity, it said, was triggered by the “extremely critical” combat potential of the Air Force caused by a three-year stalemate.

The situation was due to “unresolved issues” over man-hours and contractual obligations between HAL and Dassault Aviation over the production of 108 Rafale jets, of a total 126, to be inducted in the Air Force as part of an earlier proposal.

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