Chopper deal scam: Court allows SP Tyagi to go to Vietnam

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi, a key accused in Rs 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal scam, has been allowed by a Delhi court to go to Vietnam to attend a meet on nuclear disarmament.

PTI| Updated: Oct 13, 2013, 10:02 AM IST

New Delhi: Former IAF chief SP Tyagi, a key accused in Rs 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal scam, has been allowed by a Delhi court to go to Vietnam to attend a meet on nuclear disarmament but "specifically restrained" from travelling to Mauritius, Italy, Tunisia and Singapore.

The court allowed Tyagi`s plea in which he had submitted that being a retired Air Chief Marshal, he is part of several reputed "track-II diplomacy" initiatives and sought permission to travel to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam from October 10 to 14, 2013 to participate in the meeting organised by Asia Pacific Leadership Network.

The CBI had opposed his plea saying that there were serious allegations against him and expressed apprehension that he might not return to India or might destroy evidence.

The agency had argued that if Tyagi was allowed to travel to Vietnam, he should be restrained from going to Tunisia, Italy, Mauritius and Singapore.

The court allowed his plea saying at this stage, there was no apprehension that Tyagi would abscond or flee from justice.

"I am of the opinion that at this stage of investigation there is no apprehension of the accused absconding or fleeing from justice particularly when he has his deep roots in India particularly in Delhi.

"Hence, the lookout circular issued against the applicant is suspended during the period October 10 to 14 and he is allowed to travel only to Vietnam and is specifically restrained from travelling to Tunisia, Italy, Mauritius and Singapore. The applicant/accused is allowed to travel to Vietnam during the period from October 10 to 14," special CBI judge Ravinder Kaur said.

The court also directed that Tyagi would neither tamper with evidence nor try to influence any witness in any manner.

Tyagi, his cousins Sanjeev alias Julie, Rajeev alias Docsa and Sandeep, European middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke are among 13 individuals named as accused in the CBI FIR.

Chandigarh-based Aeromatrix Info Solutions Private
limited and its CEO Praveen Bakshi are also accused in the case. Legal advisor and former board member of accused firm IDS Infotech, Gautam Khaitan and Bakshi had allegedly routed bribe money to the Tyagis, CBI had alleged.

CBI, in its FIR, has booked all the accused under the provisions of the IPC relating to cheating and criminal conspiracy and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

During the arguments on Tyagi`s plea, his counsel argued that no prejudice would be caused to CBI if Tyagi is permitted to travel abroad as he has joined the investigation and has fully cooperated in the probe.

The court allowed Tyagi`s plea and asked CBI to inform the authority concerned about the withdrawal of look out circular during October 10 to 14 at the airport.

CBI, in its FIR, has alleged that during his tenure as Air Chief, Tyagi and "with his approval" the Air Force "conceded to reduce the service ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6000 m to 4500 m as mandatory" to which it was opposing vehemently on the grounds of security constraints and other related reasons.

The agency has said that reduction of service ceiling -- maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally -- allowed UK-based AgustaWestland to come into the fray as, otherwise, its helicopters were not even qualified for submission of bids.

CBI also alleged that AgustaWestland managed to introduce a comparative flight trial with non-functional engine and eventually succeeded in getting the contract for supply of 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters from the Defence Ministry mainly due to softening of the IAF on service ceiling after Tyagi took over as its chief.

Two new names, which were not part of the agency`s preliminary enquiry, have also been included in the FIR. They include brother of former Union minister Santosh Bagrodia, Satish Bagrodia, and Pratap Kishan Aggarwal, they said.

Six companies including Italy-based Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, Mohali-based IDS Infotech, Aeromatrix, IDS Tunisia and IDS Mauritius have been booked by CBI in its FIR.

Besides Bakshi, former Finmeccanica Chairman Giuseppe Orsi, former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini and legal advisor and former board member of IDS Infotech--Gautam Khaitan are also named as accused.

All the accused have refuted allegations against them.