3 components of deal yet to be finalised
The much-awaited deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from France has hit the roadblock.
Three crucial components of the multi-billion dollar contract are still to be finalised after Union Law Ministry red-flagged many contentious issues that are yet to be resolved.
“Negotiations on the terms and conditions of the said supply, including total cost, actual delivery timelines and guarantee period have not been concluded,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has informed the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
He said India and France agreed to conclude an inter-governmental agreement on the supply of 36 Rafale aircraft.
The defence minister’s statement in Parliament contradicts the India-France joint statement issued after the January summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande. In the joint statement, the 2 leaders “welcomed the conclusion of the inter-governmental agreement on the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in flyaway conditions” except for some financial issues, which the leaders hoped would be resolved as soon as possible.
Almost at the same time, the law ministry expressed its concerns on the mega defence deal, which Parrikar admitted tacitly in Parliament.
“The ministry of law and justice has made certain observations and the same will be adequately taken into account while finalising the inter-governmental agreement, which is still under negotiations,” he said, responding to another question.
The liability clauses in the agreement and the supply protocol are learnt to be heavily loaded in favour of the French supplier Dassault Aviation. The government-to-government deal to buy 36 aircraft was announced by Modi, during his visit to France in April 2015.
The earlier process to buy 126 fighters through a global tender was cancelled in August, 2015 as the French company, short-listed in the earlier process, did not obey the terms of the 2007 tender and the commercial bid while negotiating the price.