No adverse finding by SC: MoD

It is best to avoid the pitfalls of a corporate battle, says Defence Ministry The Defence Ministry, which on Friday disputed The Hindu report on the steep price escalation in the deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets, said that “hidden deep in the article itself” was the statement that the price was 14.2% higher compared to the escalated price. “Probably this figure does not attract as much attention as a 41.4% higher price.” Observing that even the UPA government had “rightly” rejected the European consortium EADS offer of a 20% discount in 2012 after opening of bids as violative of procedure, the Defence Ministry statement said that consideration of this offer by the government would have again made it subject “to charge of violating basic procedure”. “It is best to avoid the pitfalls of a corporate battle which has been going on since 2012 which has adversely affected the capabilities of the Indian Air Force. The controversy should be put to rest in the interest of national security,” the MoD statement said. In September 2016, India and France signed a €7.87 billion Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition following the surprise announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2015 citing “critical operational necessity” of the IAF. Referring to the Supreme Court verdict over the issue, the MoD statement said the court had not found “anything adverse in the deal” and had refused to order an investigation. “The Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) has been given access to all the files related to the Rafale deal. It is best to await the report of an authoritative agency like the CAG,” the statement said. According to the statement, a negotiation, especially between two countries, is a comprehensive deal and “selectively picking certain aspects while ignoring others, creates doubts by vested interests on a matter of vital national security”. Reacting to The Hindu report, the BJP said there had been enough clarity shed on the issue by various institutions to elicit further comment.

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