SC Rejects PIL to Probe Chhattisgarh Govt’s AgustaWestland Deal

The Swaraj Abhiyan petition alleged a “strong possibility” that money was paid as commission in the deal.

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India
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An Agusta-Westland AW139 helicopter. 
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday, 13 February dismissed a petition, filed by an NGO, seeking an investigation into alleged irregularities in the purchase of an AgustaWestland chopper by the Chhattisgarh government for VIP use in 2006-07.

A bench of Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit dismissed the plea by non-governmental organisation Swaraj Abhiyan and others seeking probe into the purchase of the helicopter.

"We do not find any grounds to accept the prayer for probe. The petition is dismissed," the bench said.

The apex court had on 31 January posed searching questions to the Chhattisgarh government on the purchase of an AgustaWestland helicopter for VIP use in 2006-07 and asked what was the "interest" of Chief Minister Raman Singh's son, Abhishek Singh, in this.

The petitioners have alleged that in July 2008, a bank account in the name of Abhishek Singh was opened in the British Virgin Islands, and on 1 August 2008, one of the firms purportedly involved in the deal wound up operations.

They have alleged that there's a "strong possibility" that money paid as commission in the deal ultimately reached the bank account.

The NGO had said that a proposal of the state in December 2006 said that helicopters firms should be invited to make their representations, but later, no company was called and a tender was issued only for one AgustaWestland chopper.

The court had said it was only concerned as to whether any "fraud or hanky-panky" was committed in securing the deal, and made it clear that it was not questioning the choice of the helicopter.

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