New Delhi: Former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and advocate Gautam Khaitan, who were produced by CBI in a Delhi court on Saturday, were sent to four-day judicial custody in a case related to the alleged irregularities in the Rs 3,700 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal.
All the accused will next be produced in the court on 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.
During the hearing, the CBI officials said that while "he was serving as the Air Force chief, Tyagi's family invested in agriculture land and hence, he has to be interrogated".
"SP Tyagi's family members invested in agriculture land during his tenure as Air Force chief. He is to be interrogated in this regard. Agusta was engaging middlemen regularly. Bribes were paid and an investigation is going on," CBI officials told the court.
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.
"Choppers were meant for VVIPs. PMO suggested the change of service ceiling (6000 metres). How many times VVIPs visited Siachen? Procurement of chopper deal was a collective decision," Hariharan said.
"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.
"There should a specific purpose on completion of the enquiry. Accused SP Tyagi has always cooperated," his counsel said in the court.
SP Tyagi, who has been denying all the allegations hurled against him in the Rs 3600-crore scam, told the court today that he is ready to give the details of his agriculture land purchase.
"I can give an account of my agricultural land purchase. In this nation, if you're arrested, you're arrested. You're on TV channels," he said.
Tyagi, who was arrested yesterday, was questioned for over four hours by the CBI on Friday.
Meanwhile, Air Force Chief Arup Raha described the VVIP chopper scam as an 'unfortunate' incident and would adversely affect the reputation of the Indian Air Force
"It is a very unfortunate episode and the incident adversely acts on the reputation of a very professional force that is the Indian Air Force. I am sure that law of the land and the judicial system will dwell into it and finally deal with the subject," he said.
"I can rest assure you the Indian Air Force and the armed forces will continue to serve the nation to best of its abilities and if anything is wrong, we will correct it quickly," he added.
Speaking on the Narendra Modi-led central government's demonetisation policy, Raha said, "We're quite okay with the demonetisation policy. In fact, we are assisting the government in airlifting large quantities of bank notes and taking it across the nation."
"IAF has deployed some people to help the government in maintaining 24/7 production capacity. If the move succeeds, it will be good for the country," he concluded by saying.
Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi (retd.) was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday, along with his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan, for their alleged involvement in the Rs 3,700-crore AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter scam.
They have been accused of routing kickbacks.The CBI has determined that about Rs 450 crore or 12 per cent of the Rs. 3,767-crore deal for procurement of 12 helicopters was paid as bribe. The government rescinded the contract in January 2014 in view of the bribery allegations.