Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava
New Delhi: Amid reports of Centre deciding to cancel Rs 3,727-crore deal for 12 VVIP helicopters with Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will on Wednesday hear the Italian chopper maker`s plea on the controversial deal.
According to reports, the top officials from the Italian firm would depose before the MoD with regard to a final show-cause notice issued on October 21 for the cancellation of the deal based on evidence that indicate the company allegedly violated the integrity pact and the contract provisions.
The MoD had on November 11 extended the deadline for replying to the final show-cause notice till November 26, apart from providing time to AgustaWestland representatives to depose before it on November 20.
However, no more extension of the deadline for replying to the notice would be provided and a decision on the contract’s fate would be taken after it ended.
The representatives of Anglo-Italian firm will present its case before officials of the rank of Additional Secretary and Joint Secretary of the Defence Ministry, who have been dealing with the case after the scandal broke out, reports said.
The decision could re-open the contract to rivals, including United Technologies Corp`s Sikorsky Aircraft, EADS` Eurocopter and Lockheed Martin.
On October 30, Defence Minister AK Antony maintained that AgustaWestland "violated the contract" for supplying 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force and the government has to move as per the law.
On October 21, the Defence Ministry had issued a final show-cause notice to AgustaWestland, seeking to cancel the deal to buy 12 helicopters and given the company 21 days to reply.
The company was asked to explain why action should not be taken against it for violating the terms of the pre-contract integrity pact.
In February, the government froze payments on the USD 771.32-million contract following allegations that Rs 360 crore was paid in bribes.
AgustaWestland has denied the allegations. Former IAF chief SP Tyagi is among those under cloud in connection with the kickback charges.
With Agency inputs