More reports on: Defence general

Chopper scam: CBI seeks President's nod to grill two governors

22 January 2014

The Central Bureau of Investigation has approached the President of India seeking permission to record the statements of two state governors in connection with the controversial helicopter deal with Italy's finmeccanica, after the union law ministry refused to sanction the grilling of the centrally-appointed governors of West Bengal and Goa.

The deal to buy a dozen AgustaWestland helicopters that were earmarked for the use of fly very, very important persons or VVIPs (a sub-species of humans that has been eliminated from mature democracies) has been belatedly cancelled by the government after Italian investigators revealed that kickbacks were paid to Indians to secure the deal. But four of the 12 helicopters have already been delivered and are in use, making the cancellation of the contract messy.

According to a PTI report citing sources high in the government, the CBI has sought permission from President Pranab Mukherjee to record the statements of Bengal governor M K Narayanan and Goa governor B V Wanchoo. Narayanan who was the National Security Advisor and Wanchoo was the head of the Special Protection Group (SPG) which guards the Prime Minister and others of comparable status.

Seeking to record their statements, the CBI has said Wanchoo and Narayanan had participated in a meeting in 2005 that allowed key changes in the technical specifications for VVIP choppers in favour of Finmeccanica.

The CBI says the President is the appointing authority for governors, and hence can sanction their questioning.

The union law ministry, while rejecting the CBI plea to question the governors, had said their posts gave them immunity from prosecution under Article 361 of the Indian Constitution.

The CBI has registered cases against former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi and 13 others, including Tyagi's relatives and European middlemen.

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