SC issues notice to Centre on AgustaWestland

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New Delhi, May 6 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the central government on a PIL seeking registration of a police complaint against those named in an Italian court judgment in the AgustaWestland chopper graft case.

The court in Milan, Italy, while convicting former senior executives of AgustaWestland for allegedly paying bribes to secure the Indian deal for its helicopters, mentioned several names purportedly referring to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh among others.

An apex court bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh issued notice to the central government on the public interest litigation (PIL) by advocate M.L. Sharma, seeking a court-monitored probe by a Special Investigation Team into the allegations of bribe taking.

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The Italian court had mentioned the names in the context of a diary of middleman Charles Michel, who had reportedly referred to the names of the Congress leaders as those VVIPs likely to use the helicopters.

The petitioner advocate urged the court to decide whether the decision of the Italian court was not enough to “implicate and prosecute” the people whose names find mention in the judgment under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The PIL also asked if the investigation into the matter involving “high profile” people could be left to be probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation or it should be supervised by the top court.

The PIL urged the court to address if the lowering of the helicopter’s altitude scaling capacity from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres to facilitate AgustaWestland to qualify as suppliers was not a serious criminal offence compromising national security.

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