AgustaWestland: SC dismisses plea seeking probe into alleged irregularities in VIP chopper deal
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea, seeking a special investigation team (SIT) be set up to look into alleged irregularities in the purchase of a VIP helicopter manufactured by UK-based AgustaWestland by the Chhattisgarh government in 2006-07 .
A bench headed by justice U.U. Lalit said that it did not find merit in the petitioners’ prayer and that there was no ground to direct an independent probe into the issue.
The court’s dismissal order was passed on a plea by Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj Abhiyan that had alleged that UK-based AgustaWestland was favoured and chosen without a transparent tender process by Raman Singh-led Chhattisgarh government. A shell company had been floated for this purpose by Raman Singh’s son, Abhishek Singh, it was claimed.
Explaining the irregularity in the deal, it was claimed that a single vendor situation was termed as a global tender, where the only product was AgustaWestland and the three vendors were AgustaWestland, its distributor Sharp Ocean based in British Virgin Islands and OSS, its service provider. Under the original plan, proposals were to be invited from different manufacturing companies.
On 16 November, the court had questioned the Chhattisgarh government to explain why a global tender for only AgustaWestland choppers was floated and asked it to submit the original documents of the procurement of the helicopters.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal had opposed the petition, saying that it should not be entertained as it had been filed by a political party.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has widened its probe in the other AgustaWestland chopper deal, bringing under its ambit politicians and journalists who allegedly received kickbacks.
In early 2013, a parliamentary investigation found several politicians and bureaucrats had allegedly accepted bribes to swing the deal for 12 AgustaWestland helicopters.
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