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New Delhi: An Italian court, hearing the VVIP chopper deal case, has rejected India’s request for documents related to the investigations into the matter, arguing that the “information is covered by secrecy".

India’s defence ministry is sending a joint secretary to Italy to gather “as much evidence as possible" related to allegations of corruption in the acquisition of 12 helicopters for the Indian Air Force from UK-based AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian defence giant Finmeccanica SpA.

The Indian embassy in Rome had made the request for the details and documents of the probe on 13 February after the arrest of Finmeccanica chief Giuseppe Orsi in connection with alleged kickbacks in the 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal, people familiar with the matter said in New Delhi on Saturday.

The Indian embassy received a communication on Saturday from the judge of preliminary invetigations of the tribunal, Busto Arsizio Luca Labianca, stating that it was “not possible to give a positive reply" to the Indian request, the people said.

In the letter received by the Indian embassy, the judge said, “The investigations were, in fact, at a preliminary stage, during which, as per Article 329 of code of Penal Procedure, all information are covered by secrecy. Only parties and their lawyers were allowed to have access to the information and documents."

The Italian judge said his office will consider a “fresh request" from India once the secrecy obligations into the matter are over.

The Indian government has already ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the case and has threatened to scrap the deal.

Meanwhile, the defence ministry is sending joint secretary and acquisition manager (air) Arun Kumar Bal to Italy on Monday to try to get as much information as possible related to the facts of the deal.

The ministry on Friday sent a show-cause notice to AgustaWestland asking why the contract should not be cancelled in view of the corruption allegations against it. It sought a reply within seven days.

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