AgustaWestland Case: Ex-IAF Chief SP Tyagi Defends Self, Drags UPA
A file photo of former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi with his staff at the IAF headquarters in New Delhi in 2007. (Photo: Reuters)
A file photo of former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi with his staff at the IAF headquarters in New Delhi in 2007. (Photo: Reuters)

AgustaWestland Case: Ex-IAF Chief SP Tyagi Defends Self, Drags UPA

A Delhi court on Saturday sent former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi to CBI’s custody until 14 December, along with his cousin Sanjeev alias Julie Tyagi and Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan.

On Friday, all three were arrested by the CBI in connection with a Rs 3,600 crore deal with AugustaWestland to acquire choppers for VVIPs. They were produced in Patiala House Court on Saturday.

According to the investigating agency, Tyagi and his associates received 12 percent of the Rs 3,600 crore as kickback for the favour to the UK-based company. Khaitan is the alleged mastermind of the entire deal.

Reacting to the arrest, Air Chief Arup Raha said that the incident is “unfortunate”, and said that it has “dented” the force's reputation.

“I am sure every Indian citizen believes in rule of law and the due process is on,” he said, adding “whatever is the final verdict we will go by that”.

He refused to speak further on the issue, saying the matter is sub-judice.

CBI’s Argument

During the court proceeding, the CBI had sought a 10-day judicial custody of the accused to probe the case further and get the bribe money.

CBI told the court that SP Tyagi and his cousin Sanjeev held meetings with the head of AugustaWestland company. CBI alleged that Tyagi had purchased acres of land, which he didn’t declare to the Income Tax department.

After the court proceeding, Tyagi spoke to the media and said that “purchasing land is not a crime” and that he is not running away and has always cooperated with the CBI.

CBI also added that at the time of the deal, AgustaWestland didn't even have choppers ready for demo.

The CBI said that it had sent judicial requests to eight countries – Italy, UK, British Virgin Island, Tunisia, Switzerland, Singapore, UAE and Mauritius – to get details of money trail.

CBI alleged that Khaitan transferred money from AgustaWestland to Tunisia and then routed it to India.

Defence’s Argument

SP Tyagi's defence lawyer told the court that the arrest was made to shift the focus from demonetisation and called the arrest after three years “illogical”.

They said that there was no specific purpose to the enquiry.

The defence lawyer also asked for proof of the properties allegedly bought by Tyagi.

The lawyers also said that the chopper deal was a collective decision and not of the Air Force Chief alone.

SP Tyagi spoke for himself in the court and said that he could account for all his agricultural land purchases. “In this nation, if you’re arrested, you’re arrested. You’re on TV channels,” Tyagi said.

The defence lawyer dragged the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for the first time, and said that it was the PMO which asked to review the service ceilings.

The lawyer said that all documents pertaining to him and his family was already seized by the CBI and there was no reason to insist on further CBI custody.

Siddhart Luthra, Khaitan’s lawyer, also raised questions on the arrest.

If the CBI has completed the investigation, then why didn’t they file chargesheet and made arrest? Arrest is nothing but harassment by the investigators (sic).
Siddhart Luthra, Gautam Khaitan’s lawyer

Sanjeev Tyagi’s lawyer informed the court that his client had fully cooperated with the investigators. He said Tyagi appeared before the CBI whenever summoned and had also handed over all necessary documents.

The Background

The suspects have been booked under Section 120B and Section 420 of the IPC, as well as the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The CBI said they were earlier called to the CBI headquarters for questioning.

Also Read:
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CBI also added that the total deal amount in AgustaWestland was Rs 3,767 crore and bribe amount was 12 percent of the main amount.

The CBI said that it decided to arrest the accused after it managed to gather ‘clinching evidence’ against them. Sources said that the arrests were made after the accused evaded questions posed to them by investigators.

The FIR filed by the CBI mentioned that Tyagi allegedly helped in swinging this deal by lowering the service height from 6,000 m to 4,500 m. However, Firstpost reported that the FIR doesn’t mention Tyagi having received any money, but says his cousins received payments from Haschke.

Christian Michel, who was middleman in the AgustaWestland deal told CNN-News18 that he never met SP Tyagi, but added that the person who introduced him to Julie Tyagi was an influential person.

Tyagi was questioned a few months ago regarding the alleged payoffs in the helicopter deal that had led to a political war between the Congress and the BJP.

Also Read:
ED to Question Ex IAF-Chief SP Tyagi in the VVIP Chopper Scam
AgustaWestland: ED Questions SP Tyagi, CBI Summons Khaitan Again

(With inputs from ANI and Firstpost.)

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