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Rafale deal 'largest defence scam' in India's history: Bhushan

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

Calling deal the "largest defence scam that the country has seen", and activist Saturday hoped the CBI would act on the complaint made by him and two others against in the matter.

Speaking at an event organised by the Mumbai Press Club,

the said if the (CBI) failed to follow due process and register a preliminary enquiry (PE) or an FIR, he will take the case to the court.

A PE is the first step of a probe by the CBI where the agency assesses whether the allegations have enough material for registering an FIR.

The Rs 58,000-crore fighter jet deal has been at the centre of a raging political row with the accusing the (BJP)-led government of wrongdoing. The government has rejected all allegations.

Responding to questions on whether the deal was similar to the Bofors scam of the 1980s, he said the present defence agreement with was a much more serious and greater cause of concern.

"This (the Rafale deal) isn't merely a matter of securing commission for a particular company, as was the case in Bofors. This is the largest defence scam that the country has seen," Bhushan said.

"To begin with, it deals with much more money. It left the high and dry, and by securing offset contracts for Anil Ambani's new company that has no experience in building fighter aircraft, it also puts our national security at risk," he said.

On October 4, Bhushan, former BJP and submitted a written complaint to the CBI over the Rafale deal. The complaint named Modi and former Defence

It urged the CBI to register a PE against them on various charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act for a range of alleged offences committed in April 2015 in the course of buying 36 Rafale jets from French firm

In the complaint, Bhushan and the others questioned how Ambani's Reliance Defence, an Indian offset of Dassault, could be involved in the deal as it had no prior experience in the field and most other companies of the industrialist "were in debt".

"We are yet to hear from the CBI. If due process is followed, the CBI should register an FIR based on the complaint. However, if that doesn't happen then we'll take the matter to court," Bhushan said.

In September 2016, signed an inter-governmental agreement with to buy the jets, the delivery of which is slated to begin from September 2019.

Bhushan alleged that while the government had refused to reveal the per plane rate, the deal was over priced and that the French firm had been made to chose at the insistence of the

Bhushan said the initial plan was to get 126 aircrafts. While 30 per cent of these were to be made by Dassault, the rest were to be made here in by the state-run (HAL), he said.

In his complaint, he has alleged that just months before the deal was finalised, the then Foreign Secretary, S Jaishankar, had said HAL would be involved in the process of getting the 126 aircrafts.

"It is significant that Mr Modi chose to keep the IAF, HAL, the Foreign Ministry, and even the in the dark about his impending designs," the complaint reads.

Last month, a French quoted former as saying his government "did not have a say" in choosing Reliance for the deal since the had proposed the private company's name.

However, both and the have denied any such imposition. has said it had freely chosen to with Reliance to fulfil its offset requirements as part of the deal.

Ambani has already emphasised that the government had no role in Dassault picking up his company as a local

He had written to on December 12, 2017, refuting allegations of his company lacking experience to bag the deal.

Ambani had written that Reliance Defence, with the largest shipyard in the private sector at Pipavav in Gujarat, was currently building five Naval Offshore Patrol Vessels (NOPVs) for the and 14 Fast Patrol Vessels for the

The has been raising several questions about the deal, including on the rates, and has accused the of compromising national interest and security while causing a loss to the public exchequer.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, October 13 2018. 19:25 IST