Defence Minister A K Antony on Wednesday refused to comment on former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi’s alleged involvement in the chopper scam, saying the government was not in a position to say if any individual, be it an Indian or a foreigner, was involved in any malpractice with regard to the chopper deal.
“We will not tolerate corruption in defence deal. We will not show any soft approach,” he assured, when pressed further. Antony also reiterated his earlier statement that the IAF and the Special Protection Group (SPG) that guards Indian VIPs had pressed for the special helicopters in view of the security assessment.
On the reported delay in ordering the probe, he said since the news reports on the corruption allegations came about, the government was pursuing information on the investigations and involvement of Indians in the alleged payment of kickbacks from both the Italian and British governments. “So far, we have not got any details from the two governments,” he added.
Expressing resolve of the government to act against corrupt practices in defence deals, Antony gave the examples of the six defence firms -- four foreign and two Indian -- that were banned for 10 years in 2012 for their involvement in the corruption case against former Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) chief Sudipta Ghosh. Admitting that such blacklisting of defence firms did cause ‘initial setback’ to Indian military equipment projects, he said that over time those setbacks were overcome successfully, as in the case of the six firms with regard to the setting up of ordnance factories in Nalanda, Bihar.