In closing the case, Houlette disregarded the advice of a deputy prosecutor who was handling the case. The deputy prosecutor in fact refused to notify that the case had been dropped. Houlette is accused of not making any serious attempt at investigation barring an informal meeting with the legal representative of Dassault.
In an interview in 2020, Houlette was quoted as saying that “One can’t take aim at everything…one has to preserve the interests of France, the workings of institutions”.
While the Government of India claims there was no wrong doing and that the Supreme Court and the CAG had given the deal a clean chit, it is at best a half-truth. Because the following questions have still not been satisfactorily answered:
1. On what basis did India reduce the order from 126 Rafale jets to just 36 ?
2. Half of the 126 Rafale jets were to be produced in India. Why did the Indian Government abandon the clause and opted to buy all 36 jets in its revised order manufactured in France?
3. Dassault as per the earlier agreement was to plough back half the contracted amount into India. Why was this clause dropped?
4. Why was Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., a public sector undertaking with half a century of experience in manufacturing planes and helicopters, dropped from the deal?
5. On what basis was Reliance Defence, a company barely a fortnight old and with no experience in aviation, chosen as Dassault’s partner?
Mediapart’s investigation has once again taken the lid off the controversial deal. But neither Dassault nor the Governments of India and France have bothered to clear the air.