The Supreme Court said it will consider listing after two weeks a writ petition filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma seeking registration of an FIR and an investigation under the Officials Secrets Act into a French media report that France’s anti-corruption agency, Agence Francaise Anticorruption (AFA), found aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation paid €1 one million to an Indian company in connection with the 2016 Rafale deal. The petition has made Prime Minister Narendra Modi the first respondent, followed by Sushen Mohan Gupta, Defsys Solutions Private Limited, Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited, the Centre and the CBI in that order.
The petition urged the apex court to order the registration of an FIR under various offences including cheating, criminal breach of trust, Sections under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Official Secrets Act. It asked the court to issue appropriate writ direction for cancelling/quashing agreement of September 23, 2016, for the purchase of 36 Rafale jet fighters from Dassault France for being hit by fraud, corruption and offence under the Official Secrets Act and to recover the entire advanced money with a penalty and to blacklist Dassault.
The Rafale deal became controversial, with the Opposition, led by the Congress, claiming that the price at which India bought the Rafale aircraft was ₹1,670 crores each, three times the initial bid of ₹526 crores by the company when the UPA was trying to buy the aircraft. It claimed the previous deal included a technology transfer agreement with HAL. The BJP dismissed the allegations and called the reports baseless.