India accuses Italy of 'torpedoing' its MTCR entry bid

India will not become a party to any further legal process of appeal in Italy's top court on the AgustaWestland helicopter case, defence minister Manohar Parrikar told The Economic Times on Thursday, adding that New Delhi has already got "all documents" necessary for the probe here.

"We have got our work done, we have got access to all documents. Now, there is a fight there on other legal points. Why should we be a part of that? The AG advice was not to continue (the appeal). It is an unnecessary spending of money. We could not have done anything and would just be observers," the minister said, referring to the Court of Appeals judgement that started a political storm on corruption during UPA rule.

Further, Parrikar accused Italy for "torpedoing" India's attempt to join the Missile Technology Controls Regime.

 He also said that the Rafale fighter deal negotiations are proceeding and indicated that a final agreement on the price could be achieved by next month itself.

On corruption, Parrikar said he was confident that the VVIP copter scam will not adversely impact India's modernisation drive and went on to emphasise that the forthcoming blacklisting policy will spell out specific actions against bribery efforts.

"Bribery is considered a criminal offence for which the punishment is blacklisting. However, for minor offences - for example, if a small part of the contract has not been fulfilled, like a delivery period changing from six months to eight months, we will not blacklist a firm. But, for criminal matters and for national security - these are two issues where there is no such choice. There will be no compromise," Parrikar said.

The defence minister rebutted the criticism that his initiative to invite the private sector for discussions on the strategic partnership model has a conflict of interest. "Conflict of interest comes into picture if I appoint someone to decide on his own selection. I am not doing so, this is just feedback for which the industry has been consulted," he said.

On defence reforms, the minister said that a call to put into place a new four-star general for joint operations and planning could be taken within the calendar year itself after consultation with an expert panel. "I see no reason why (a decision on the four-star general) should not happen within this calendar year or in the financial year," he said.

Parrikar expressed confidence that even without MTCR , India could still emerge as a major exports hub, especially for missile systems. "Yes, we have approved it in principle (missile exports) and now we are working to put together a lot of things that will make it happen," he said.