In a startling revelation, a Paris court has confirmed that the deal to acquire 10 additional Mirage 2000 jets in 1996 was finalized through middlemen.
It has been learnt that a Panama-based company called Keyser was employed by the French manufacturers of the Mirage fighter to negotiate the contract with the Government of India.
In 1996, the Government of India decided to replace the existing jets with modern upgraded set of fighter jets.
After months of negotiations with several arms companies, the Ministry of Defence entered into a contract with French arms manufacturer Dassault Aviation for the sale of 10 Mirage 2000.
Nearly five years later, the Air Force is still flying the old set of wings and the new airplanes are yet to arrive.
But thousands of miles away in Paris, there is even bigger question of how the Indian government goes about shopping for its defence equipment.
A court in Paris, while hearing a dispute between Dassault Aviation and its agent Keyser, has confirmed what many in India have been saying for years.
The French court has confirmed how the Panama-based company Keyser was instrumental in negotiating the Indian Mirage deal.
In fact, the company was paid a sum of 10 lakh US dollars by Dassault as the first installment of the commission.
Ironically, the case went to the court only when Dassualt backtracked on its commitment to pay Keyser the commission it promised.
Former Defence Minister George Fernandes, during whose tenure this deal was signed, has so far not reacted to this order.
But what's surprising is how the Indian government remained unaware of the previous track record or the court case and went about doing business with same company for more defence products.
Keyser, which calls itself a commercial aeronautical product company, has no known track record in defence deals.
If track record wasn't enough, what could have evoked suspicion was the Keyser claim that it is partly owned by the East India Publising Co and Curzon Co.
So far, the Dassault office in India has refused to react to this order.
The Defence Ministry has said they will look into the matter, but what's clear is that these findings put India's defence procurement system under the scanner once again.