New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) next week seeking police action against Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia’s political advisor Ahmed Patel for allegedly receiving bribes in the AgustaWestland chopper scam.
A Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and justices R Banumathi and UU Lalit ordered the listing of the PIL when the petitioner, advocate ML Sharma, said that it is an urgent matter which should be heard at the earliest.
An Italian court has reportedly cited handwritten references to Sonia Gandhi, her political secretary Ahmed Patel and former Air Chief SP Tyagi by a middleman in a judgment that convicted the helicopter company’s chief executive.
Senior BJP leader and now Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy is leading the government’s charge in the VVIP chopper scam by raising the issue in Parliament for a second straight day. On Wednesday, he had named Sonia Gandhi in his speech with the Speaker immediately ordering that the remarks be expunged.
The CBI had in 2013 registered a case in connection with alleged bribes paid by the firm to Indians to clinch the deal for 12 helicopters to ferry VVIPs including the President and Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, the Congress continued to demand that the CBI should be allowed to finish its probe.
“The government must speed up the CBI enquiry which we ordered, find out the truth, identify the middlemen and punish them,” former Defence Minister AK Antony said.
The Congress had on Wednesday claimed AgustaWestland was blacklisted under UPA rule but “removed” from the blacklist by the Modi government, a charge denied by the Centre.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar challenged the Congress to show the order by the UPA government confirming the blacklisting. It was on July 3, 2014 when Arun Jaitley was Defence Minister that an order was issued which put on hold all procurement and acquisition cases in the pipeline with six companies involved in the scam including AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica, sources in the government told PTI.
The government had on Wednesday also denied there was any bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi in New York last year.
The Congress has quoted middleman Michele as claiming a deal between Modi and Renzi, where the Indian leader offered to free two Italian marines, facing murder charges in India, in exchange of evidence linking Sonia and her family to the corruption in the Rs 3600 crore deal.
Sonia had on Wednesday said she is not afraid of any investigation in the chopper scam and asked the government why it did not do anything for two years in the matter.