Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Saturday alleged that changes made to the Rafale deal for the supply of 36 Rafale fighter jets from French manufacturer Dassault to benefit Anil Ambani was “a textbook case of offences under section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act…” Bhushan and former Union minister Arun Shourie had on Thursday met CBI Director Alok Verma and handed over a complaint with regard to the Rafale deal. Addressing the media at the Mumbai Press Club on Saturday afternoon, Bhushan said he hoped the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) would register an FIR in the matter or at least begin a Preliminary Enquiry (PE).
Addressing the media, Bhushan said he had several questions for the government regarding the Rafale deal.
“The first question is that the government of the day should answer why the aircraft order was reduced from 126 fighter jets to 36 fighter jets. When the government keeps talking about Make in India why was the contract then taken away from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)? How come the price of the fighter jets went up from Rs 670 crore per aircraft to approximately Rs 1,660 crore? How was Anil Ambani awarded the contract when he had no experience in defence?”
He further alleged that Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had given ‘absurd explanations’, including reducing the number of aircraft due to lack of parking space and that HAL did not have the capability to manufacture the aircraft.
“This is nothing but lies,” Bhushan alleged. “The scam has left the Air Force high and dry and looted the public exchequer. This is a textbook case of section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and section 13 of the erstwhile Act (before it was amended). Hence a complaint has been given to the CBI against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the then defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Anil Ambani and others involved.”
Responding to a question about Sitharaman’s visit to Dassault in France following the allegations, Bhushan said that she had gone there to ensure that the matter was ‘rafa dafa’ (taken care of).
In the past, the Congress party has alleged that the Rafale deal was a ‘scam’ where the government had granted favours to Anil Ambani’s company by making them the offset partner for the Rafale deal when they did not have the expertise.
The BJP has denied these charges.