NEW DELHI: A plea was today filed in the Supreme Court seeking an independent probe into the Centre's decision to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets from France and disclosure of the cost involved in the deal before Parliament.
The petition, which may come up for hearing during the week, alleged that it was the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to disclose the cost involved in the entire deal to Parliament and the citizens.
"Direct the respondents (Centre and MoD) to disclose a consolidate transaction cost involved in procuring 36 Rafale fighter aircraft," the plea, filed by Congress leader Tehseen S Poonawalla, said.
It also sought issuance of a direction against the Centre as to why the Cabinet's approval was not sought as part of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) before signing the procurement deal with France on September 23, 2016.
The plea claimed that the defence deal of procuring 36 Rafale fighters from Dassault was announced during the prime minister's state visit to France.
"It was an attempt to put a sheen on Prime Minister's visit to Paris. This pronouncement was a premature announcement of the deal without going through the usual practice, the formal process and procedure which is otherwise involved in similar international covenants," it said.
Rafale deal is a defence agreement signed between the governments of India and France to purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts in fly-away condition as a part of upgrading process of Indian Air Force equipment.
Rafale fighter aircraft is a twin-engine Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) is manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation.
Indian Air Force had advanced a proposal to buy 126 fighter aircraft in August 2007 and floated a tender and an invitation was sent to various aviation companies to participate for the bidding process.
The petition said that in 2012, the deal for 126 Rafale fighter aircrafts was proposed, and out of the total of 126 number, 18 Rafale fighter aircrafts were to be delivered by Dassault Aviation company in fly-away condition, the rest 108 Rafale fighter aircrafts were to be manufactured in India at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) which is an Indian public sector aerospace and defence unit, under a transfer of technology agreement.
That the deal was nearly finalised by 2014 by the then UPA government, it said.
"In April 2015, Narendra Modi made a state visit to France and during a state event the Prime Minister in Paris made an announcement to purchase 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts in fly-away condition and immediately within few days after the big announcement of procuring of 36 Rafale aircrafts. On 13 th April 2015, the then defence minister made an announcement that the Rafale deal is 'effectively dead' and that India officially withdrew the 126- aircraft MMECA tender on 30 July 2015," it alleged.
The plea said the MoD had withdrawn the 2007 tender which was for procurement of 126 Rafale fighter aircrafts, the deal announced for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft was altogether a fresh procurement.
The plea has also sought a direction to the Centre put on record the agreement signed between India and France on September 23, 2016.