HYDERABAD: Governor E S L Narasimhan was quizzed on Wednesday by a special team of the CBI in connection with the `3,726.96-crore AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal.
This is the first time that the Governor of Andhra Pradesh/Telangana was questioned by the CBI at the Raj Bhavan and the third to be examined by the CBI after M K Narayanan and B V Wanchoo.
While the CBI move puts a question mark over Narasimhan’s continuance in office, Narayanan and Wanchoo had resigned soon after the CBI grilling as West Bengal and Goa Governors, respectively.
While working as Director of the Intelligence Bureau in 2005, Narasimhan was among those who attended the meeting, where the decision to reduce the service ceiling -- maximum height at which the VVIP helicopters can operate optimally -- was taken. This decision made the AgustaWestland eligible for the deal after which the UPA Government purchased 12 choppers in 2010.
Around 11.30 am, a team from the CBI officials led by a senior official drove to the Raj Bhavan and questioned 68-year-old Narasimhan. It is learnt that the CBI team asked questions pertaining to the minutes of the meeting held in 2005.
The questioning went on for about one and a half hours. “Narasimhan was quizzed as a witness in the case. He has given a written statement based on the questions raised by the CBI which came with a detailed questionnare,” sources said.
Narasimhan was questioned for a lesser duration than other Governors whose interrogation continued throughout the day.
As a head of the IB, Narasimhan was a member of the committee that was mandated to procure the helicopters meant for VVIPs. The case the CBI is dealing with is about a `360-crore bribe paid to some of the officials and members of the committee to alter the specifications. The CBI has already registered a case against former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi along with 13 others, including some European middlemen. The investigating agency has questioned Narayanan and Wanchoo as witnesses in the case after which they tendered their resignation.
Narasimhan had attended the meeting where the decision was taken to relax certain norms that made Agusta eligible for the deal.