Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani Friday said the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Rafale deal proved that the allegations levelled against him and his company were “wild, baseless and politically motivated”. The petitioners had questioned the government’s decision to choose Reliance Defence, a private entity, as Dassault Aviation’s offset partner for the multi-billion dollar deal as it had no prior experience in the sector. The apex court, in its judgment, said there was no substantial evidence to prove commercial favouritism to any party by the Indian government and, therefore, did not find any reason to interfere in the choice of the offset partner. It dismissed all petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the deal.
“I welcome the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court today summarily dismissing all PILs filed on the Rafale contracts, and conclusively establishing the complete falsity of the wild, baseless and politically motivated allegations levelled against Reliance Group and me personally,” Ambani said in a statement.
On October 11, The Indian Express carried a report on an investigation conducted by French newsportal Mediapart’s into the Rafale deal, which found that Dassault Aviation was awarded the contract for 36 aircraft on the condition that it chose Reliance as its offset partner. A top official of the French company was quoted by Mediapart as saying, “It was imperative and obligatory for Dassault Aviation, to accept this condition, in order to obtain the export contract for Rafale from India”.
These remarks were similar to what Francois Hollande, the French President at the time of the deal, had told Mediapart. “It was the Indian government that proposed this service group (Reliance), and Dassault who negotiated with Ambani. We didn’t have a choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us,” Hollande was quoted as having said.