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VVIP chopper scam: CBI grilled ex-IAF chief S.P. Tyagi for 10 hours, to question again

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Former IAF chief S.P. Tyagi on Tuesday leaves from his residence will be questioned again by Central Bureau of India (CBI) over alleged corruption in the Rs.3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.

On Monday, Tyagi arrived at the Central Bureau of Investigation headquarters around 10 a.m. and was questioned till 8 p.m. The investigating agency had issued him notice on Friday.

Read  More: AgustaWestland deal: Former IAF chief SP Tyagi reaches CBI headquarters for questioning

Tyagi has been named in the FIR in the chopper deal along with 13 others including his brothers — Sanjeev, Rajeev and Sandeep — and European middlemen Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

Sources said Tyagi’s brothers will soon be summoned for questioning along with Gautam Khaitan, another accused in the case.

The allegation against the former IAF chief is that he had reduced flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres (15,000 feet) so that AgustaWestland was included in the bids.

Tyagi maintains the decision was reportedly taken in consultation with officials of the Special Protection Group (SPG) and the Prime Minister’s Office. Twelve helicopters were to be bought by India.

The CBI says the reduction of the service ceiling, which is the maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally, allowed the Britain-based firm to get into the fray. Otherwise its helicopters were not even qualified for submission of bids.

The chopper deal resurfaced after an Italian court last month referred to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh among others in connection with the chopper deal but gave no details of any wrongdoing by the two leaders.

The CBI, which has received a copy of the Milan court order, has now prepared a fresh set of questions for Tyagi, who has denied the bribery allegations.

The Milan court has also given details of how alleged bribes were paid by AgustaWestland’s parent company Finmeccanica as well as AgustaWestland to Indian officials through middlemen to clinch the deal.

The order mentions Tyagi’s name in several places.

The investigating agency had quizzed former IAF deputy chief J.S. Gujral on Saturday.

Both Tyagi and Gujral were questioned in 2013 but the fresh round of questioning was necessitated after the recent order of the Italian court.

AgustaWestland’s Rs.3,600 crore contract for supplying 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force was scrapped by the then UPA government over charges of paying kickbacks to Indian agents.

In January 2013, India cancelled the deal and the CBI was assigned to investigate the matter.

The CBI on March 13, 2013 registered a first information report against Tyagi and others in the case.

Firms Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, IDS Infotech Ltd (India) and Aeromatrix India were also booked as accused in the case.

Wefornews Bureau

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LS to take up no-trust motion on Friday, Modi, Rahul to speak

Seven hours have been set aside for the debate which will begin at 11 am and go on without the lunch break.

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PM Modi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi : Pic Credit Anil-Sharma Indian Express

New Delhi, July 19 : The BJP and opposition Congress sharpened their attacks on each other on Thursday, a day before the Lok Sabha takes up the no-confidence motion for debate and voting in an increasingly polarised environment with each side trying to maximise its chances of victory in the 2019 general elections.

Top guns of the two parties, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi, will take part in the debate which will conclude with a reply from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Seven hours have been set aside for the debate which will begin at 11 am and go on without the lunch break. Officials said as per calculations based on the strength of a party in the House, the BJP will get over three hours and Congress around 45 minutes.

Ruling coalition, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), appeared confident of the numbers with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar saying that it will be “NDA plus” at the end of voting.

“We have talked to several parties. We will get fresh support from the south and the northeast. It will be NDA plus,” he said.

In the 545-member (including the Speaker) Lok Sabha, the BJP-led NDA can bank on around 311 members in the Lok Sabha including 273 of BJP, SAD (4), Shiv Sena (18), LJP (6), RLSP (3), JD-U (2), Apna Dal (2), All India N R Congress (1), SDF (1) and NDPP (1).

Kumar also took a swipe at Congress leader Sonia Gandhi for her remarks on Wednesday that the Opposition had the required strength.

“She is not able to do her maths properly. What happened in 1999 is being repeated. The Congress had faced embarrassment,” Kumar said.

Kumar also taunted Congress for its support to TDP’s no-confidence motion. “There is a talk that Congress is following those it opposes,” he said.

While Shiv Sena has issued a whip to its members in the Lok Sbha to be present and vote in favour of the government, AIADMK indicated that it might not support the no-confidence motion. AIADMK has 37 MPs.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) member Kesineni Srinavas, whose notice was accepted by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Wednesday as it was the first to be submitted, will initiate the debate on the motion.

A TDP delegation on Thursday sought the support of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to the no-trust vote.

Apart from TDP, the notice of no-confidence had also been given by members of the Congress, NCP, RSP and CPI-M. AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi.

BJP sources said Modi will speak for about one-and-a-half hours. Partry MPs
Anurag Kashyap and Hukumdev Narayan Yadav may also speak in the debate.

The Congress, the key rival of BJP in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, is expected to target the government on issues ranging from economy, problems of farmers and unemployment to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and petroleum prices.

It will also attack the government over “lynchings, social disharmony and social tensions.”

Party leader Anand Sharma said on Thursday that the “government should come up with a white paper on economy and release fresh GDP growth numbers.”

The motion will be the first to be faced by the Narendra Modi government, which is left with less than a year in office.

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Time allottment for No Confidence Motion debate

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New Delhi, July 19: The Lok Sabha is slated to discuss “No Confidence Motion” moved by the opposition against the Narendra Modi government on Friday (July 20).

The debate will take place for the duration of three hours. Out of which the Bhartiya Janata Party has been allotted- 33 minutes, Congress-38 minutes,AIADMK-29 minutes, TMC-27 , BJD-15 minutes, Shiv Sena-14 minutes, TDP-13 minutes, TRS-9, CPIM 7 minutes, SP- 6 minutes,NCP- 6 minutes and LJSP-5 minutes.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Wednesday accepted a no-confidence motion moved by the Congress and the TDP.

Mahajan said she had received notices from at least six MPs seeking no trust vote against the Narendra Modi government and was duty-bound to put it to the consideration of the House.

She told the house that Kesineni Srinavas of the Telugu Desam Party was the first to give his no-confidence notice and asked members if it can be moved.

The speaker asked Srinavas to introduce the motion which was supported by over 50 members, including from the Congress and other opposition MPs.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the government was ready to face the no trust motion and asked Mahajan that it may be tabled.

“Everything will be clear after the discussion. I want to make it clear in the House that the people of the country have full confidence on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.”

Meanwhile, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge asked the Speaker why the other members who had handed over their notices were not allowed to read them.

In response to this, she said rules allowed her to table the notice that was submitted first.

Mahajan further stated she read out the names of these members.

The Names include Mallikarjun Kharge, K.C. Venugopal (Congress), Tariq Anwar (Nationalist Congress Party), N.K. Premachandran (Revolutionary Socialist Party) and Thota Narsimham (TDP).

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Lok Sabha passes Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill

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New Delhi, July 19: The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed  Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018. 

As per the Bill, a person can be declared as a fugitive economic offender (FEO) if an arrest warrant is issued against him for any specified offences involving more than Rs 100 crore and he has fled to any other country and refuses to return to face prosecution.

To declare a person an FEO, an application will be filed in a Special Court designated under the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, 2002.

The Bill provides for confiscation of any FEO’s property bought from the proceeds of crime as also his other assets, benami or otherwise.

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