Airbus deal: CBI rejects plea to reconsider action
Indian Airlines in 2005.
CBI had approached the Aviation Ministry in November last year seeking sanction to prosecute six of its officials for the alleged irregularities but the Ministry had written back to the probe agency asking it to reconsider, official sources said.
The aviation ministry had reasoned out that the responsibility on the officials was not as big as projected by the CBI in its findings.
However, recently CBI wrote back to the aviation ministry saying that it stuck to its findings and the allegations needed a proper probe for which sanction may be accorded against the six officers which included an officer of the rank of Joint Secretary.
Refusing to divulge the names of the officials against whom the sanction had been sought, the sources said it was mainly those who were in the negotiation team and had put their signatures on the files.
The agency had registered a Preliminary Enquiry in the matter and had started probing the deal last year as it came to light that clauses which governed setting up of an MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) unit, training centre and a warehouse, worth USD 17.5 crore by Airbus, were allegedly diluted by some officials, the sources said.
The deal was finalised in September 2005 when an Empowered Group of Ministers had given its nod after Airbus agreed to set-up the facilities along with the supply of 43 aircraft.
The Comptroller and Auditor General in its report in September said the commitments made by Airbus regarding creation of MRO and training facilities were "quite open-ended".
"In respect of the MRO, the wording 'facilitate creation of MRO facilities in India in association with the promoters' did not give any indication of a binding commitment. There was no mention anywhere that the training and MRO facilities would be exclusive for India Airlines use or would be meant for all users of Airbus aircraft (public and private) in India and nearby," the report had said.
The CAG said Indian Airlines entered a joint Venture with EADS, parent company of Airbus, in 2008 but there was no tangible progress in that direction. It, however, said the training centres were started in Bangalore.