French online journal Mediapart’s new ‘expose’ on the Rafale deal involves payments that were made during UPA era in 2007 - 2012, and not with regard to the current deal

Mediapart, a French online media portal, on Sunday published alleged fake invoices that it claimed enabled French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation to pay at least €7.5 million in kickbacks to a middleman Sushen Gupta to help it secure the ₹59,000 crore deal with India for 36 Rafale fighter jets.

Mud-Slinging Boomerangs On Congress

The alleged pay-offs received by Gupta to ‘facilitate’ the Rafale deal during UPA regime has been corroborated by sources in the investigative agencies, who claimed that a probe is pending as the ongoing investigation against the middleman is restricted to the Agusta-Westland corruption case. A separate FIR needs to be registered in the Rafale pay-offs and that will cover Gupta and his benefactors, a source said. The bribes were paid to Gupta through his Mauritius entity Interstellar, according to the French website, in the guise of “dubious IT contracts” reported Times of India.

If the new allegations of the portal are true, then the kickback was given during the previous government led by Congress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Quite clearly, the invoices are related to a deal that the UPA Government was trying to make. At that time, commercial negotiations were going on between the Rafale makers in France and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) on how and at what price 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF) be procured and co-produced.

However, what has happened is that because of the delayed negotiations and the urgency on the part of the IAF, the incumbent Modi government and its then French counterpart led by President Hollande concluded in 2016 an “inter-governmental” deal, under which France would deliver fighter planes off the shelf.

It is worthy to note that the initial understanding in 2012 between the HAL and Dassault was a “commercial deal”, the actual deal that materialized in 2016 was a government-to-government decision. 

Therefore, there is no scope for any sort of corruption and it will be ridiculous to say that the then French President Hollande bribed Prime Minister Modi to clinch the deal.

The Govt-To-Govt Deal

In September 2016, India and France signed a €7.87 billion Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition. India chose Dassault over its traditional partner Russia’s MiG. The basic cost of the aircraft is about ₹680 crore. This deal is India’s biggest-ever procurement. Besides the missile systems, the Rafale jets will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others.

Supreme Court Dismissed Pleas To Review Rafale Ruling of Dec 2018

The Supreme Court on 14th Nov 2019 dismissed the review petitions challenging its December 2018 verdict in the Rafale case. A three-judge Bench also closed a criminal contempt plea against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, asks him to be ‘more careful in future’.

In the order, the SC had dismissed two petitions — one filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan, and the other by AAP Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh — seeking a court-monitored investigation into the India-France deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft. Petitioners had alleged a conspiracy at the highest level to defraud the exchequer and favour a group chosen as offset partner by Dassault which makes Rafale.

“The endeavour of the petitioners was to construe themselves as an appellate authority to determine each aspect of the Rafale purchase… We cannot lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with a contract for aircraft pending before different governments for quite some time. The necessity for those aircraft has never been in dispute... This court did not consider it appropriate to embark on a roving and fishing enquiry,” Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul delivered the main judgment he co-authored with the CJI.

SC Raps Rahul Gandhi

The Bench also closed a criminal contempt petition filed by BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi against Congress MP Rahul Gandhi for wrongly attributing the phrase "chowkidar Chor Hai" to the court. It said Mr. Gandhi's statement was “unfortunate”. A political leader of his stature should be “more careful in the future”. It wondered whether Mr. Gandhi had even perused its order before making the statement.

It said Mr. Gandhi's statement was “unfortunate”. A political leader of his stature should be “more careful in the future”. It wondered whether Mr. Gandhi had even perused its order before making the statement.

Rahul Gandhi had apologised to the court.

SC Gave A Second Clean Chit To The Narendra Modi Government

The Supreme Court also gave a clean chit to the Narendra Modi government in the Rafale fighter jets deal case, saying review petitions were without merit. The court rejected pleas which had sought re-examination of the December 14, 2018 verdict which said there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.


Mediapart is not the only French platform, which views the Rafale deal as a huge scam. There is a Paris-based organization called “Sherpa” that has been following the deal since 2018. N Ram a prominent member of the Hindu group of publications (and a former editor) in a desperate bid to give an impression of some great scoop was caught lying in his The Hindu article about the Rafale Deal.


In the end, whatever way you look at the Rafale deal, it has proved extremely beneficial to the country and the Indian Air Force. These sophisticated jets at this moment has managed to keep the ever expansionist Chinese and the belligerent Pakistanis at bay from our volatile borders.