Chargesheet in AgustaWestland Scam May Be Filed This Year, Centre Tells SC

Credit: Reuters

Credit: Reuters

New Delhi:
The Centre on July 15 told the Supreme Court that an SIT probe has been initiated in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam case following the registration of an FIR in 2013 and a chargesheet is likely to be filed this year.

A bench of justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan considered the submission of solicitor general 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 was above law and the case was being thoroughly probed for which chargesheet will be filed.

The apex court had on May 6 sought the Centre’s reply on the PIL filed by advocate M. L. Sharma. The PIL had sought FIRs against political leaders, including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh, whose names have allegedly been referred to in the Italian court’s verdict in Milan on April 7, 2016.

It had sought a court-monitored SIT or CVC probe and had also raised legal questions including whether the decision of the Italian court was “not enough” to prosecute.

The plea had said that the probe began in Italy in 2011 into the allegation that AgustaWestland had 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.

The 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.