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SC to hear plea on media role in AgustaWestland deal

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SC to hear plea on media role in AgustaWestland deal



New Delhi, Jan 3 The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a PIL seeking court-monitored probe by CBI/SIT into the allegation that AgustaWestland had spent six million euros for "managing" the media in a VIP chopper deal that ran into rough weather following allegations of pay-offs.

Asking petitioner Hari Jaising, former Editor of Punjab-based newspaper The Tribune, to provide copy of the petition to the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Directorate of Enforcement (ED), the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Arun Mishra tagged it with a related matter being heard by another bench.

The petitioner journalist has sought a report on the alleged role of the media in influencing the deal by way of their reports.

There are allegations that certain media persons, including some prominent ones, were the beneficiaries of the "media management" by AgustaWestland.

Former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi is facing prosecution for favouring the purchase of 12 AgustaWestland choppers for VVIP use.



Tyagi, who was arrested on December 9 for his role in AgustaWestland deal, was granted bail by the trial court on December 26.

Tyagi -- the first chief of any wing of the country's armed forces to be arrested -- and two others were allegedly involved in irregularities in the procurement of 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters from Britain-based AgustaWestland. Tyagi was the IAF chief from 2004 to 2007.

The Indian Air Force had sought the AgustaWestland choppers as a replacement for its Mi-17 cargo helicopters that were modified for VVIP deployment.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had critically commented on the purchase of the VVIP choppers, saying it was a waste of resources.

--IANS

pk/py/vt

Indo-Asian News Service

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