New Delhi: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy Wednesday told Supreme Court that the government has furnished him copies of letters concerning Jet-Etihad deal, allegedly written by Indian officials favouring grant of additional air traffic rights to the UAE airline.
"Government has complied with my request to provide me copies of the letters written for the favourable consideration of the request of Abu Dhabi for additional capacity allocation," Swamy told a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu.
Taking note of his submission, the bench, which also comprised justices A K Sikri and Arun Mishra, asked the BJP leader to file a rejoinder within eight weeks on the contents of the documents.
Swamy had sought direction from the apex court to furnish copies of certain letters which, in his opinion, were essential for adjudication of the petition.
Government supplied him with letters, including one written on April 5, 2013 by then Commerce Minister Anand Sharma to (Eds. Correct) Sheikh Hamad Bin Zayed Al Nehayan, a member of the royal family and Chairman of Crown Prince Court of Emirates of Abu Dhabi.
He was also given an April 9, 2013, letter of then External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to the UAE Foreign Minister and two letters dated April 15 and 21, 2013, written by M K Lokesh, who was then Indian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, to the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
The ambassador's April 15 letter states that in view of "setbacks" suffered by the UAE government, a favourable consideration to their request for allocation of additional capacity to their airline (Etihad Airways) would go a long way in boosting investments from UAE to India.
In the second letter, he speaks about the conversation he had with Managing Director of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority about the Indian aviation sector.
Sharma's communication with Chairman of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi was about Bilateral Investment and Protection Agreement (BIPA) which he had taken up with the then Indian Finance Minister and the Prime Minister.
Khurshid's letter also concerned bilateral investment in which he had mentioned about the aviation sector.
Swamy has earlier sought a CBI probe against government officials who had cleared the deal, while questioning government's decision to execute the agreement in favour of Abu Dhabi under the existing Air Service Agreement between the governments of India and United Arab Emirates.
The ambassador's letter had stated that the UAE government had suffered "some setbacks with regard to their investments in India. For instance they had to write-off 1 billion US dollar of their investment consequent to cancellation of 2G licences. Their investment in Nevyeli power plant is also facing problem...
"In the context of the above, a favourable consideration of request from the Abu Dhabi authorities for additional capacity allocation for their carrier will go a long way in alleviating their concerns for clearing the way for further investments from UAE to India. Such an allocation would also benefit the Indian tourism sector as well as the Indian community," the letter had said.
Khurshid, in his April 9, 2013 letter to UAE Foreign Minister had stated "comprehensive bilateral relations between us provide a firm foundation to build on and facilitate amicable resolution of pending issue.
"We believe that we should sustain and nurture the investment momentum including the civil aviation sector and let our relations continue to grow at their natural strategic pace for the mutual benefit of our people. I understand that our Minister for Civil Aviation will be in touch with his counterpart in due course," the former Minister had said.
In the last hearing on December 10 last, the government had said the copies of these letters would be be given to Swamy within two weeks.
Swamy has filed petition seeking to quash the deal on the ground that it was against public interest as there has been squandering of natural resource i.E. The sky and airspace.
The apex court on December 6, 2013 had made it clear that it would quash the Jet-Etihad Airways deal if there are any irregularities in it.
It had issued notice to Centre and Income Tax Department on his plea seeking direction to the government to place the transcript of tapped telephonic conversation of Radia in which she allegedly had talked about civil aviation sector.
Referring to Radia tapes, Swamy, in his application, had said the documents were important for adjudication of the case and the apex court had already ordered CBI probe in the alleged involvement of middlemen in aviation sector which was revealed in conversation.