Parliament’s panel says ‘unhappy’ over delay in Rafale deal

New Delhi, May 3 (IANS) As negotiations between India and France for the sale of 36 Rafale jet fighters are on, a parliamentary panel on Tuesday expressed its displeasure over the non-conclusion of the deal.

Parliament’s standing committee for the defence ministry said in its report: “The committee are unhappy to note that although a considerable time has elapsed, negotiations with France on Rafale (fighter aircraft) could not be taken to a logical end.”

The panel is headed by Bharatiya Janata Party’s Major General B.C. Khanduri (retd).

According to the report, the government told the committee that the initial deal for the sale of 126 Rafale jets could not be concluded as Dassault Aviation of France did not confirm the agreement.

Earlier in the day, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told the Rajya Sabha that the government will take into account the law ministry’s observations regarding the inter-governmental agreement while signing the deal.

In a written reply, Parrikar said: “The ministry of law and justice has made certain observations and the same will be adequately taken into account while finalising the IGA (inter-governmental agreement), which is still under negotiation.”

According to sources, the law ministry has cautioned the government on some clauses in the draft IGA, including a clause on material breach.

The law ministry also suggested that the liability clause should be stringent.

The deal for the purchase of Rafale jets in fly-away condition was inked during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France in April last year.

Both the sides also agreed to conclude the IGA for the aircraft’s supply after which a negotiating team was constituted.

The negotiations have since been stuck on account of various factors, including price and offset clause.

As for the deal for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft which was cancelled, the defence ministry told the committee that the contract negotiations in the case could not be concluded because Dassault Aviation “did not confirm compliance with certain terms of RFP (request for proposal) and its bid”.

The RFP for the procurement of 126 aircraft was formally withdrawn on June 24, 2015.

The government informed the committee that a separate proposal will be moved for additional funds in the 2016-17 fiscal to procure 36 Rafale aircraft, which was agreed upon in a government-to-government deal in April last year.

–IANS

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