Government Admits “No Sovereign Bank Guarantee For Rafale” In Supreme Court | Top IAF Officials Appear In SC

Supreme Court of India reserved it’s order in Rafale Deal PIL case after hearing all sides including Government and Indian Air Force. The Government Admitted that there is no ‘Sovereign Bank Guarantee’ for Rafale rather a ‘Letter of Comfort’ from France during the marathon hearing, which continued for over 4.5 hours. 

Shailesh Kumar, National Defence
New Delhi, 15 November 2018

There is no ‘Sovereign Bank Guarantee’ rather a ‘Letter of Comfort’ from France in G2G deal for 36 Rafale worth 59,000 crore, Governmet attorney admitted in top court of India. The admission came when Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi asked Attorney General KK Venugopal to respond to three questions raised by advocate and Rafale petitioner Prashant Bhushan who put forth his views that three conditions for Inter Governmental Agreement were not met so as the Sovereign Guarantee for Rafale delivery.


The other two issues flagged by Prashant Bhushan included that if Dassault Aviation doesn’t deliver, who will be responsible and any arbitration in case of dispute would be out of India, which is not disclosed by the Government.

Attorney General Venugopalan said in the court that, “Though there is no Sovereign Guarantee, there is letter of Comfort from France. But when bench interrupted his reply saying, there is no “Sovereign Guarantee”, Mr Venugopal responded saying, “this is a matter of national security”.

 

AG Venugopal contended that Rafale has potential and had Rafale been available during Kargil, we could have hit targets from 60 kilometers. To which court said that these systems (Rafale) came in existence much after the Kargil war. Then Mr Venugopal said, that it is his opinion.


The bench asked attorney to read out offset documents. Justice Joseph asks what will happen to national security if Offset Partner doesn’t turn out to be good. This is real national security issue.


During the Rafale hearing Additional Secretary (defence) admitted they are yet not being informed by the vendor (read Dassault Aviation) as who is their offset partner. However, he admitted that offset contract run concurrent with the Project.

During the marathon hearing which run for four and half hour, three judge bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph expressed desire to interact with IAF officials and not the MoD official to get specific answers regarding IAF Requirements. AVM J Chalapathi, Assistant Chief of Air Staff Projects came to Supreme Court just before the lunch but joined by Air Marshal Anil Khosla, Vice Chief of Air Staff and Air Marshal V R Chaudhari, Deputy Chief of Air staff post lunch as soon as hearing restarted after the recess. AVM J Chalapati told court that there was no induction of fighter jet after Mirages were inducted in 1985. He termed LCA Tejas aircraft as third generation aircraft while expressing his liking for the domestic beast. Officers told court that latest induction is of sukhoi-30mki being built by HAL which is 3.5 generation aircraft and told IAF does not has fourth and fifth generation aircraft.

(The first Russian made Su-30MKI was inducted in IAF in 2002 and first indigenously licensed produced Sukhoi aircraft entered service  in the year 2004).


After about half an hour post lunch session, court said IAF officers can leave while saying that, “this is a different kind of war room; You can now go to your actual war room. Thank You”. Following which the IAF officials left. Hearing continued by arguments of Sanjay Hegde who represented AAP Party leader and advocate Sanjay Singh.

 Advocate ML Sharma, contended that the agreement is valid only if Rafale aircraft costs less that Euro 60 million. Law is broken as the same aircraft is supplied to French Government at Euro 60 million. He said, there is no bank guarantee in the deal.  

The court reserved it’s order in the Rafale PIL case. 

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