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SC to Hear PIL for Court-monitored Probe in AgustaWestland Case

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a PIL seeking a court-monitored probe by CBI and the
Enforcement Directorate in the AgustaWestland helicopter scam case and the allegation that some media persons took bribes from foreign arms dealers in connection with the deal.

A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Arun Mishra asked the counsel for petitioner, who has filed the PIL on the issue, to serve the copies of the petition to the Ministry of Home Affairs, CBI and the Enforcement Directorate.

The plea, filed by Hari Jaisingh, a veteran journalist, has said that the agencies, CBI and ED which have been probing the case, be also asked to submit a report to this court in a sealed cover stating the status of the investigation.

It has also sought “setting up of a Commission of Inquiry under the stewardship of a retired judge of this court, or any other eminent person which this court deems fit” to probe the allegations that some media persons indulged in corrupt practices.

The PIL, filed through lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai, alleged that “Finmeccanica (parent company of AgustaWestland) had invited a group of Indian journalists on a fully paid for trip to Italy”.

The plea has referred to the judgement of the Milan Court of Appeals and said the role of a “middleman/agent who acted on behalf of AgustaWestland emerged”.

It also said an individual stationed in New Delhi and acting as the representative of AgustaWestland in India was specifically tasked with acting as a “facilitator” to ensure “smooth disbursement of funds allocated for managing key Indian officials and several influential members of Indian media”.

It has also sought a direction to the Centre to seek affidavits of “financial disclosures from the members of the media who have received funding and hospitality from foreign and domestic defence and other ancillary industries, and to make public this information and submit to the court on affidavit whether on these sums taxes have been paid or not”.

The Cabinet Committee on Security in 2010 had cleared a proposal to acquire 12 helicopters for the use of VVIPS after a long process that involved change in some parameters, evaluations and negotiations and these helicopters were to be used by the Communication Squadron of the air force. The chopper deal was later cancelled.