Ex-IAF Chief SP Tyagi Says PMO Was Part of ‘Collective Decision’ In Favour Of Agustawestland
Tyagi and other accused have been sent to CBI custody till Dec 14.
A Delhi court on Saturday sent former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi, arrested in the Rs 450 crore AgustaWestland bribery case in procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters, to police custody for four days after the CBI said he was needed to be quizzed to unearth a “very large conspiracy having international ramifications”.
His cousin Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie and advocate Gautam Khaitan, also accused in the procurement of VVIP choppers from the UK-based company during UPA-2 regime, were also sent to police custody till December 14.
Metropolitan Magistrate Sujit Saurabh sent them to CBI custody saying their custodial interrogation was required for a “fair probe” in the case. During the proceedings, CBI sought 10 days’ custody saying it was a “very large conspiracy having international ramifications”.
However, the counsel appearing for the accused, opposed CBI’s plea saying FIR in the case was registered over three years ago and there was no fresh ground for the arrests now.
Senior advocate N Hariharan, who appeared for the former IAF chief, claimed that the decision to procure 12 VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective” one and the Prime Minister Office (PMO) was also a part of it.
“It was a collective decision and not his (Tyagi’s) individual one. It was a collective decision of which PMO was also a part,” he told the court.
The CBI alleged that Khaitan was the “brain” behind how the bribe money reached India and several companies through which the money travelled came into existence.
While seeking their custodial interrogation, the agency said the accused were required to be confronted and their assistance was needed to collect evidence and details of the bribe amount paid by AgustaWestland through different back channels abroad.
It said they were required to be interrogated and confronted with each other and the incriminating evidences.
The agency alleged that Tyagi had “abused his official position, and when he was the Air Chief Marshal, he had made huge investments in land and other (properties) and he had not disclosed the source of his income.”
It also said the involvement of several others in the entire conspiracy cannot be ruled out. “It was a very large conspiracy having international ramifications. Involvement of others in the conspriracy cannot be ruled out.” The agency claimed that sensitive documents were procured by the firm’s officials and several information regarding the procurement of choppers were conveyed to the firm after which the AgustaWestland got the deal.
During the hearing, senior public prosecutor Raj Mohan Chand said that on October 31, 2004, S P Tyagi was appointed the IAF chief and he had to take the charge on January 1, 2005. Till that time, he was attached with the then IAF chief.
The agency said at a meeting on March 1, 2005, a fresh tender was issued for procurement of choppers and a U-turn was taken on decisions taken earlier regarding the chopper deal.
Under the earlier decision, the choppers had to be twin- engined but after this meeting, at Tyagi’s instance, it was amended to “at least twin-engined”, it alleged.
This amendment was intended to make AgustaWestland eligible for entry as its choppers had three engines, the CBI claimed, adding that Carlo Gerosa, the alleged European middleman, and Sanjeev Tyagi were known to each other.
Later, another alleged European middleman, Guido Haschke, came in contact with Sanjeev through Gerosa, it said.
CBI further alleged that officials of AgustaWestland visited India several times and they, along with Haschke, met Tyagi unofficially and continued their contact.
Tyagi’s counsel N Hariharan opposed CBI’s contentions and said the decision to procure the choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective decision of which PMO was also a part”.
“The file moved through several level