NEW DELHI: Former Civil Aviation Minister and NCP leader Praful Patel on Thursday appeared before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officers in connection with a case related to favouring foreign private airlines at the cost of national carrier Air India.
Patel was the civil aviation minister between 2004 and 2011 during the Congress-led UPA government’s rule. Talwar, now in judicial custody, was extradited to India from the United Arab Emirates in January this year.
The NCP leader is alleged to have connection with aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar, who has been named in the Enforcement Directorate’s charge sheet in the case.
The Supreme Court had handed over the high-profile case to the CBI, in which it was alleged that the minister had misused his official position to make Air India and other airlines give up profit-making routes and timings in favour of national and international private airlines, causing huge loss of market share of the national carriers.
The senior NCP reached the CBI headquarters at around 11 in the morning for questioning. It has been alleged that private airlines were favoured by Patel and Talwar causing losses to national carrier Air India.
Other allegations include acts of commission were made on extraneous considerations, causing immense losses to the national carriers and pecuniary benefit to private domestic and foreign airlines. The case pertains to purchase of 111 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus at a cost of Rs 70,000 crore, ceding of profitable routes and schedules to private airlines and opening of training institutes with foreign investment.
The CBI alleged Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, Go Air, Indigo, SpiceJet and Paramount Airways started operating and made profits on domestic routes. Patel has denied any wrongdoing.
With agency inputs