What is Rafale?
Dassault Aviation built a series of a twin-engine fighter jet by name Rafale. They are one of the best combat jets.
Controversy, How It Started?
UPA Deal: India under the UPA government began the process to buy a fleet of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) in 2007 under the then Defence Minister, A.K. Antony.
Lockheed Martin's F-16s, Boeing's F/A-18s, Eurofighter Typhoon, Russia's MiG-35, Sweden's Gripen, and Dassault Aviation's Rafale were the contenders for the deal.
After a long process, Dassault Aviation emerged as the lowest bidder in December 2012, the original proposal was manufacturing 18 planes in France and other 108 in collaboration with the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. at India. Lengthy negotiations took place between the then UPA government and Dassault on prices and transfer of technology. The negotiations continued till 2014 but the deal could not go through.
NDA Deal: Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to France, announced India will purchase 36 Rafale jets in a government-to-government agreement. On April 10, 2015, a joint statement was issued after talks between Modi and the then French President Franois Hollande, which said they agreed to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement for the supply of 36 Rafale.
The statement said the Inter-Governmental Agreement for supply of the aircraft in terms of agreement and the delivery would be in such time-frame that it would be compatible with the operational terms of IAF; and that the aircraft and related systems and weapons would be delivered as the same configuration which was tested and approved by Indian Air Force, and longer maintenance responsibility by France.
Chronological order of whole Rafale deal:
- 30th December 2002: Defence Procurement Procedures (DPP) adopted to streamline procurement procedures.
- 28th August 2007: Ministry of Defence issues Request for Proposal for procurement of 126 MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) fighters.
- 4th September 2008: Reliance Aerospace Technologies Ltd (RATL) incorporated by Reliance group.
- May 2011: Rafale and Eurofighter jets shortlisted by Air Force.
- 30th January 2012: Dassault Aviation’s Rafale aircraft comes up with the lowest bid.
- 13th March 2014: HAL and Dassault Aviation signed a Work Share agreement which made them accountable for the 70 per cent and 30 per cent of the work, respectively, for 108 aircraft.
- 8th August 2014: Arun Jaitley, the then defence minister tells Parliament that 18 direct ‘fly-away’ aircraft expected to be delivered in 3-4 years and remaining 108 aircraft to be delivered in the next seven years from signing of the contract.
- 8th April 2015: The then foreign secretary says detailed discussions underway between Dassault, MoD and HAL.
- 10th April 2015: New deal for the acquisition of 36 direct ‘fly-away’ aircraft from France announced 2016.
- 26th January 2015: India and France sign MoU for 36 Rafale aircraft.
- 23rd September 2015: Inter-governmental agreement signed.
- 18th November 2015: Government states in Parliament that all aircraft will be delivered by April 2022 and the cost of each aircraft to be approximately Rs 670 crore.
- 31st December 2015: Dassault Aviation’s Annual Report shows the actual price paid for the 36 aircraft at about Rs 60,000 crore, more than double the government’s stated price in Parliament.
- 13th March 2018: PIL in SC seeks independent inquiry into Centre’s decision to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets from France and revealing of the cost involved in the deal before Parliament.
- 5th September 2018: SC agrees to hear PIL seeking a stay on Rafale fighter jet deal.
- 18th September 2018: SC adjourns hearing on PIL seeking a stay on Rafale fighter jet deal to October 10.
- 8th October 2018: SC agrees to hear on October 10 fresh PIL seeking direction to Centre to file in “sealed cover” the details of the agreement for buying 36 Rafale fighter Jets.
- 10th October 2018: SC asks Centre to provide details of the decision-making process in the Rafale fighter jet deal in a sealed cover.
- 24th October 2018: Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan moves SC and seeks for filing of FIR into Rafale fighter jet deal.
- 31st October 2018: SC asks Centre to give pricing details of 36 Rafale fighter jets within 10 days in a sealed cover.
- 12th November 2018: Centre provides the price details of 36 Rafale fighter jets in a sealed cover to SC. Along with details of steps that led to the finalisation of the Rafale deal.
- 14th November 2018: SC reserves order on pleas seeking court-monitored probe in Rafale deal.
- 14th December 2018: SC says there is no occasion to doubt the decision-making process of the Modi government and dismisses all the petitions seeking direction to the CBI to register an FIR for alleged irregularities in the jet deal.
- 15th December 2018: Government moves SC and seeks correction in para which makes reference to CAG report and PAC.
- 2nd January 2019: Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan moves SC and seeks for review of Rafale verdict.
- 14th January 2019: Sanjay Singh, AAP MP, moves SC seeking review of Rafale verdict.
- 21st February 2019: Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan seeks to hear on a plea seeking perjury prosecution of some officials for misleading court.
- 26th February 2019: SC decides to hear pleas seeking review of Rafale verdict in open court.
- 6th March 2019: Documents related to Rafale deal stolen from Defence Ministry, Centre tells SC, threatens The Hindu newspaper for publishing articles against them.
-8th March 2019: K.K. Venugopal, Attorney General explains that Rafale documents not stolen, petitioners used photocopies.
- 13th March 2019: Centre tells SC, review plea based on leaked secret documents endangers national security.
- 14th March 2019: SC says, Will first decide preliminary objection raised by Centre and reserves verdict.
- 10th April 2019: SC dismisses Centre’s objections claiming privilege and allows the use of leaked documents.