Supreme Court dismisses pleas to review Rafale ruling

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News:The Supreme Court has refused to review its December,2018 order rejecting a probe into the controversial Rafale deal.

Facts:

About the Rafale deal:

  • The Rafale deal is a defence deal between French and Indian government.
  • In 2016,Indian government had inked a direct deal with the French government to purchase 36 new Rafale fighter jet.
  • As part of the contract,India will also get the latest weapons like the Meteor and Scalp missiles,besides a five-year support package that assures high availability of the fighter.

About Rafale fighter jet:

  • Rafale is a twin-engine medium multi-role combat aircraft.It is manufactured by the French company Dassault Aviation.
  • The Rafale is referred to as an ‘omnirole’ aircraft by Dassault.It is the capability to perform several actions at the same time.It can carry out both air-to-ground as well as air-to-air attacks.
  • The aircraft is also fitted with an on-board oxygen generation system (OBOGS).It suppresses the need for liquid oxygen refilling or ground support for oxygen production.

About Rafale deal controversy:The petitioners have filed the case against the Rafale deal on the basis of these issues:

Pricing:

  • The petitioners have alleged that the government had bought 36 Rafale fighter aircraft at a much higher price than the one that was being negotiated for 126 aircraft by the previous government.
  • However,the court has rejected the allegations on the pricing of the jets. It said it was not the function of the court to determine the prices.

Offset Partner:

  • The petitioners had raised an issue over Dassault partnering with Reliance Defence,a private company instead of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics limited(HAL).
  • But the court pointed out that the Defence Procurement Policy(DPP) 2013 says that the Original Equipment Manufacturer(OEM) will choose its own Indian Offset Partners(IOPs) and that in this process,the role of the Government is not envisaged.

Additional information:

About Offsets:

  • Offsets are kind of a quid pro quo between countries and defence companies.Basically,since a government spends a large part of its budget buying equipment from these companies,it asks these companies to invest a portion of the deal amount in their countries.
  • The offset clause allows for economic growth of the country in the process of completing the deal.While some offset clauses may ask for investments, others may impose terms like onboarding of local suppliers in the process.
  • The key objectives of offsets are to leverage capital acquisitions to develop national defence R&D and encourage the aerospace and internal security sectors.

SCALP

  • SCALP is a precision long range ground attack missile that can take out targets with extreme accuracy.It has a range of 300 km capped by the missile technology control regime.

METEOR

  • A meteor is a beyond visual range air to air missile that is possibly the best in its class.It can take out enemy aircraft at a range of over 100 km.