A new PIL (public interest litigation) over alleged corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal will be heard by the Supreme Court after two weeks, the Chief Justice of India told the petitioner.
ML Sharma, an advocate, had requested the Supreme Court for an independent probe, following fresh allegations that the 2016 deal between India and France also involved the payment of 1.1 million Euros by aviation major Dassault to an Indian middleman.
French publication Mediapart, citing an investigation by the country’s anti-corruption agency, reported that Dassault Aviation had paid about one million Euros to an Indian company called Defsys Solutions for 50 models of the aircraft which were to be given as “gifts”.
Sushen Gupta, who runs Defsys Solutions, is being investigated in the Agusta-Westland helicopter scam. He was earlier arrested and granted bail in the case. Defsys, one of the subcontractors of Dassault in India, denied the allegations, say they were totally unfounded.
“The company (Dassault) said the money was used to pay for the manufacture of 50 large replica models of Rafale jets, even though the inspectors were given no proof that these models were made,” Mediapart reported.
One of these models can be seen outside the residence of the Air Chief. Sources say other models are installed at the Western Air Command, the IAF base in Gwalior; some are headed to the new Rafale squadron being set up in Hasimara and others lie in a warehouse waiting to be installed.
Following the fresh allegations, the Congress had demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on the new reveal.
India bought 36 fighter jets from France in a ₹ 59,000-crore inter-governmental deal in 2016. The fourth batch of the Rafale jets arrived in India earlier this month. The three jets were refueled mid-air over UAE. The country eceived the first batch of five planes in July last year, a second batch of three Rafale jets in November and a third batch this January.