NEW DELHI: Arrested former Air Force chief SP Tyagi on Saturday told a designated court that the decision to procure VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective” one and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was also a part of it. Tyagi’s accusations came during a hearing of the remand petition moved by the CBI. The CBI had on Friday arrested Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev and lawyer Gautam Khaitan.
The trio were arrested in connection with the alleged Rs 450 crore bribery case in the Rs 3767 crore VVIP chopper procurement deal. While the CBI sought 10-day remand of the accused for confronting them with one another, the court sent them for four-day of police custody till December 14.
The probe agency told the court that crucial information was collected from three countries - Italy, Switzerland and Mauritius - via letters rogatory and the accused are required to be confronted with it to unearth the larger conspiracy in the chopper deal case.
The CBI has alleged that a conspiracy was hatched to reduce the service ceiling of the helicopters from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres after which AgustaWestland became eligible to supply a dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties.
It told the court that the words "at least twin engine" were inserted in the amendment proposal in 2005 for procuring VVIP helicopters to bring AgustaWestland into the eligibility criteria, adding that the changes were made deliberately as AgustaWestland helicopters had three engines and a service ceiling of 4,500 metres.
Senior counsel N Hariharan representing Tyagi claimed in the court, “It was a collective decision and not his (Tyagi’s)individual one. It was a collective decision of which the PMO was also a part. The file moved through several levels but I am the only one who has been arrayed as accused.”
CBI told the court that Tyagi had “abused his official position” and when he was the Air Chief Marshal, he had made investments in land and other properties and has not disclosed the source of his income.
At this point during the argument by the CBI counsel, the former IAF chief, who was present in the courtroom, told the magistrate, “My agricultural lands were bought from 2002. I can give account of all my land investments if they (CBI) wa-nt.” After hearing the arguments, the magistrate remanded the three accused to CBI’s custody till December 14 saying, “considering the seriousness of allegations and gravity of the matter, I am of the considered opinion that CBI custody of the accused is required for a fair probe”.
(with inputs from IANS)