Prime Minister Modi with former French President François Hollande at the G20 Summit in 2016.
Prime Minister Modi has been named as an accused along with then Defence Minister, Manohhar Parrikar, in a complaint to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) submitted by Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Prashant Bhushan. The complaint, which is dated October 4, 2018, accuses the Prime Minister of conspiring with Anil Ambani so that Ambani's Reliance Aerostructure Limited (RAL) can benefit from the offset clause in the Rafale deal. Apart from the complaint submitted to the CBI, proceedings are also underway in the Supreme Court of India seeking details of the Rafale deal.
On October 3, a Bench comprising the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice SK Kaul and Justice KM Joseph asked the Attorney General, KK Venugopal to appraise the Court of the decision-making process in the Rafale deal. This arose out of petitions instituted by M.L Sharma and Vineet Dhanda that sought the details to be made public. The Court, however, clarified that they sought these details only for their satisfaction and that it should not be treated as issuing notice to the government.
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The Rafale deal has generated a lot of controversy due to the manner in which the first deal that was struck under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had been scrapped and a new deal floated without issuing a new Request For Proposals (RFP). Further, the offset requirements had been increased. However, the main India beneficiary of the new offset requirements would no longer be the public sector undertaking, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), but rather a new private entity that had only existed for 10 days before the deal was inked.
Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan had held press conferences on August 9 and September 11 this year, where they levelled serious allegations against Prime Minister Modi. Their press statements had detailed the discrepancies and strange coincidences to the effect that any reasonable person would suspect that there must be a conspiracy. However, their present complaint to the CBI delves into more detail.
They have accused the Prime Minister and then Defence Minister of criminal misconduct and taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act. Both of which are offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. They have also called for First Information Reports (FIR) to be registered against the Prime Minister and then Defence Minister for the named offences as well as against Dassault Aviation Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Eric Trappier and Anil Ambani for abetment.
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The complaint, however, mentioned that the CBI would be placed in a strange situation as under section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, sanction is required for prosecution. This means that the Union Government headed by the Prime Minister would be tasked with deciding whether sanction should be granted for prosecuting the Prime Minister and other named persons. Thought sanction is unlikely to be granted, there is no requirement of sanction for registering an FIR and investigating an offence. One would hope that at least FIRs are filed in connection with the complaint.
Read the full text of the complaint here.