A court in Delhi on Monday granted bail to former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief SP Tyagi, accused of receiving and facilitating bribes in a Rs 3,727-crore deal aimed at buying AgustaWestland choppers for ferrying government dignitaries.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special judge Arvind Kumar allowed Tyagi’s bail application and asked him to furnish a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and surety of like amount. The court will hear the bail plea of the other two accused — Sanjeev Tyagi, SP Tyagi’s cousin, and lawyer Gautam Khaitan — on January 4.
Their arrests earlier in December came nearly three years after India scrapped the contract for 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers following allegations of corruption. This was the first time a retired service chief had been arrested in India’s military history.
In an FIR filed in March 2013, the CBI had named 13 people – including the former air force chief; his cousins Sanjeev alias Julie, Rajeev alias Docsa and Sandeep; three alleged middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke; former Union minister Santosh Bagrodia’s brother Satish Bagrodia; IDS Infotech managing director Partap Aggarwal; Aeromatrix CEO Praveen Bakshi; former Finmeccanica chairman Giuseppe Orsi; former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini; and IDS Infotech legal advisor Gautam Khaitan – as the accused in the case.
Six companies – Italy based Finmeccanica, its UK-based subsidiary AgustaWestland, Mohali-based IDS Infotech, Chandigarh-based Aeromatrix, IDS Tunisia and IDS Mauritius – also figured in the report.
Investigations gathered pace after an Italian court of appeals pointed fingers at 71-year-old Tyagi in April 2016, observing that there were “unmistakable indications of corruption” by an Indian officer. The VVIP chopper case also led to several disruptions in Parliament. The matter was taken up in both the houses this May.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar had said in the Lok Sabha that some members of the UPA government were the real beneficiaries, while Tyagi only received “chillar” – or small change – from the scam.