New Delhi: The Centre today told the Supreme Court that an SIT probe has been initiated in AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam case following the registration of FIR in 2013 and a charge sheet is likely to be filed this year.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan considered the submission of Solicitor General (SG) Ranjit Kumar and disposed of the PIL seeking court-monitored SIT probe and registration of FIR against some political leaders and others whose names have allegedly been referred to in an Italian court‘s verdict in the chopper case.
During the hearing, Kumar told the bench that nobody is above law and the case is being thoroughly probed for which charge sheet will be filed in the case. The apex court had on May 6 sought Centre’s reply on the PIL filed by advocate M L Sharma which had pressed lodging of FIR against political leaders, including UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose names have allegedly been referred to in Italian court’s verdict.
CBI had in 2013 registered a case in connection with alleged bribes paid by the firm to Indians to clinch the deal for 12 helicopters to ferry VVIPs including the President and Prime Minister. The plea, which has made Ministry of Defence and CBI as parties, had sought registration of FIR against persons whose names have figured in the judgement delivered by the Italian court in Milan on April 7, 2016.
It had sought a court-monitored SIT or CVC probe and also raised legal questions including as to whether decision of the Italian court is “not enough” to prosecute. The plea had said the probe began in Italy in 2011 into the allegation that AgustaWestland paid a commission of Euro 51 million (over Rs 350 crore) to Switzerland-based consultant Guido Ralph Haschke to facilitate the deal.
“The scope of the Italian probe will end at the point where the alleged commission money reaches India. The probe will not go into who was paid the money in the Indian establishment or how the funds were worked around within the power circles of New Delhi,” it had said.
“That action has been taken in Italy on VVIP helicopter scam. The CEO of the company has been arrested. But no action has been taken here. The country which would have benefited from the deal has taken action while the country which lost money has not done anything,” it said, adding the petitioner is apprehending that the case may meet the fate of Bofors scandal.
CBI had in 2013 registered a case in connection with alleged bribes paid by the firm to Indians to clinch the deal for 12 helicopters to ferry VVIPs including the President and Prime Minister. A case was lodged for alleged cheating, corruption and criminal conspiracy in the Rs 3,600 crore deal, in which Rs 360 crore is alleged to have been paid as kickbacks.