Supreme Court giving clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the much controversy marred Rafale aircraft procurement has set the lid once for all. Began in 2002 with Defence Procurement Procedures (DPP) adopted to streamline process in 2007: Ministry of Defence issues Request for Proposal for procurement of 126 MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) fighters in 2008: Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group incorporates Reliance Aerospace Technologies Ltd (RATL) in May 2011: Air Force short-lists Rafale and Eurofighter jets in 2012: Dassault Aviation’s Rafale aircraft comes up with the lowest bid in 2014 the procurement of frontline aircraft for air force has been marred with controversies. Congress was on the forefront to keep the controversy fire on with eye on Parliamentary elections in 2014. Gandhi alleges that the deal was negotiated personally and then announced by PM Narendra Modi in 2016 during a visit to Paris, violating government checks on purchases of that scale. On Thursday SC dismissed review pleas against its verdict in the Rafale deal, rejecting contention that there was need for registration of an FIR in connection with the procurement of 36 fighter jets from French firm Dassault Aviation. SC also closed contempt plea against Rahul Gandhi. Transfer of Technology remains the primary issue of concern between the two sides. Dassault Aviation was also not willing to take the responsibility of quality control of production of 108 aircraft in India. While Dassault provisioned for 3 crore man hours for production of the aircraft in India, HAL’s estimate was nearly 3 times higher, escalating costs manifold. What was on offer was just Licence Manufacturing technology. Under the current agreement, the 36 Rafale procurement offset proposal supports the ‘Make In India’ initiative of the Indian Government through Article 12 of the IGA. It states that the French Party will facilitate the implementation of ‘Make In India’ by the industrial supplier notably through offsets for 50% value of the supply protocol.
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