High court rejects Thales plea on Scorpene probe

April 25th, 2008 - 10:39 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Friday rejected French military major Thales’ plea to dismiss a public interest suit seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the 2.4 billion euro Scorpene submarine deal in which kickbacks are alleged to have been paid. A bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and Siddharth Mridul said it could not dismiss the petition without studying the action taken report of the CBI on the court directive to the investigating agency to conduct a preliminary enquiry.

“We will first go through the report and see what has been done by the CBI. If there is any ground on which the petitioner can raise an objection, we would further hear it,” the bench said, posting the next hearing for May 16.

Appearing for Thales, senior advocate B.P. Singh argued the petition should be dismissed as the CBI had complied with its order by conducting an enquiry into allegations of kickbacks and had submitted its preliminary report.

The CBI Friday filed a report on its enquiry in a sealed envelop before the court, which had Dec 20 directed it to do so.

The court had restrained the agency from closing the case after conducting the enquiry, saying the CBI had to satisfy it that there was no evidence of kickbacks being paid in the deal.

India had signed the Scorpene submarine contract with Thales, which subsequently sold its submarine operations to DCNS, a company in which it holds a 25 percent stake with the balance 75 percent held by the French government.

Newsmagazine Outlook first carried the allegations that were later picked up by other media outlets.

“Thales is obviously pleased with the decision of the high court in ordering an enquiry into the allegations by the Outlook magazine with respect to the Scorpene contract,” a Thales official had said soon after the court passed its order.

“It has been many months since Outlook printed and published completely inaccurate allegations against Thales,” he pointed out.

“It has also been many months since Thales initiated judicial proceedings for defamation against Outlook, and until today, Outlook has been unable and unwilling to come up with any evidence or anything else substantiating, in any acceptable manner whatsoever, its allegations,” the official added.

According to him, the public suit in the high court had not “demonstrated anything against Thales substantiating in any way the allegations of Outlook against Thales.

Noting that the company had asked to be made a party to the public suit, the official said: “Thales intends to fully cooperate with the CBI whenever required to.

“Thales looks forward to Outlook replying to the questions within the continuation of the PIL (public suit) and is absolutely confident everything will confirm that the allegation made by Outlook against Thales will be proven totally false.”

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