JPC set up to probe chopper deal
The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday adopted a motion constituting a 30-member Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the VVIP chopper deal.
The BJP members opposed the govt's motion, moved by Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Nath, and staged a walkout.
The JPC will have 30 members, 20 from the Lok Sabha and the rest from the Rajya Sabha. It will submit its report in three months.
Earlier, participating in the debate in the upper House, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said that the culprits in the helicopter scam would be punished and any company found guilty would be blacklisted. Responding to the opposition's charges, Antony said, "I feel ashamed of this scam." "It's a matter of shame for us every time a scam is reported," Antony said, adding, "I want to find the truth and punish the guilty."
The minister said that taxpayers' money can't be wasted and claimed that procedures were followed at all levels in the deal. He stressed the need to get to the root of the scam.
Initiating the debate, the BJP accused the government of delaying the probe and demanded that the money trail be traced so that those who received kickbacks could be punished. BJP member Prakash Javadekar alleged that Rs 400 crore had been paid in kickbacks for the deal.
He said the country wants to know who "the family", referred to in documents of Italian investigators, was.
Javadekar alleged middlemen including Guido Ralph Haschke, Karlo Valentino Ferdinando Gerosa and Christian Michel had received money in the deal; part of which was sent to India through circuitous channels.
He said Italy had started a probe on how "corruption took place", though it was a country which benefited from the Rs 3,600-crore deal for the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland. Attacking the United Progressive Alliance government, Javadekar accused it of not acting on the voluminous documents on the deal prepared by Italian investigators.
He said the documents of the investigators twice mentioned "the family".
The CBI had on Monday registered a preliminary enquiry against 11 people, including former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi, and four companies, in the purchase of VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland. Besides Tyagi, the inquiry names his cousins Sanjeev alias 'Julie' Tyagi, Docsa Tyagi, Sandeep Tyagi, advocate Gautam Khaitan, formerly associated with Aeromatrix, and the company's CEO, Praveen Bakshi.
Others named in the inquiry include Orsi, Bruno Spagnolini, CEO of a Britain-based subsidiary of men Guido Ralph Haschke, Karlo Valentino, Ferdinando Gerosa, and Christian Michel.
The firms named are Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, IDS Infotech Ltd. (India) and Aeromatrix India.
A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and defence ministry team last week went to Italy to collect documents concerning alleged kickbacks paid to clinch the deal.
The government had on February 15 initiated action for cancellation of the contract for procurement and issued a formal show cause notice to AgustaWestland seeking cancellation of contract. Two days earlier, it put on hold further payments to the company. The contract for purchase of 12 AW101 helicopters for the use of VVIPs was signed in 2010.
- Asian Tribune -