Ahead of the much-awaited handover of the Rafale fighter jet to the Indian Air Force, the Comptroller and Auditor General has completed its finding in the multi-million defence deal. According to a report by the Times of India, the CAG is likely to present the offset deal audit in the Rafale jet contract in the Winter Session of Parliament later this year. The TOI report said that the new audit report contains details of around 32 offset deals of all three defence services between 2012-13 and 2017-2018. This means that the current audit not pertains to Rafale fighter jet deal only.
Earlier in February this year, the CAG had tabled its report on the Rafale deal in Parliament. At that point of time, the report didn’t have details on the offset deals.
The February report had confirmed that the Narendra Modi government had bought Rafale fighter planes at a cheaper rate. The CAG report on Capital Acquisitions in Indian Air Force, which was tabled in Rajya Sabha, did not have any mention about the exact price of each fighter jet. The audit had noted that the IAF did not define the ASQRs (Air Staff Qualitative Requirements) properly. As a result, none of the vendors could fully meet the ASQRs. ASQRs were changed repeatedly during the procurement process. It created difficulties during technical and price evaluation and affected integrity of competitive tendering; one of the main reasons for delay in acquisition process. Objectivity, equity and consistency of technical evaluation process wasn't evident in Technical Evaluation Report.
A Defence Ministry team in March 2015 recommended the scrapping of the 126 Rafale deal saying that Dassault Aviation was not the lowest bidder and EADS (European Aeronautic Defence & Space Company) was not fully compliant with the tender requirements, the CAG report said.
Finding issues in the UPA era 126 aircraft deal, CAG says Defence Ministry team had said in 2015 that the proposal of Dassault Aviation Rafale should have been rejected in technical evaluation stage itself as it was non-compliant with RFP requirements.