Former air force chief SP Tyagi, arrested in the nearly Rs 4,000-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, was remanded to four days’ CBI custody along with two others on Saturday.
The CBI has sought 10-day custody of the accused because it believed their interrogation was essential to unearth a “very large conspiracy with international ramifications”. The others arrested with Tyagi in the case pertaining to the procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from the UK-based firm are his cousin, Sanjeev, and advocate Gautam Khaitan.
During proceedings at a Delhi court, Tyagi’s counsel N Hariharan said the procurement of VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective” decision in which the erstwhile Prime Minister’s Office also played a part. “The file moved through several levels, but (my client is) the only one who has been arrayed as the accused,” he added.
The CBI had arrested Tyagi on corruption charges during the course of its probe into the `3,767-crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal on December 9. He is the first military chief to be arrested in India’s history.
Incumbent air force chief Arup Raha described Tyagi’s arrest as “unfortunate”, and said it had “dented” its reputation. “But we believe in the rule of law,” he added.
The CBI told the court that Tyagi had “abused his official position” when he was the air chief marshal, and made huge investments in land and other properties without disclosing his source of income. To this, Tyagi said he could give an account of all his land investments.
The counsel appearing for the other two accused also opposed the CBI’s remand plea on the grounds that the FIR was lodged over three years ago, and there were no fresh grounds to arrest them at this stage. The probe agency, however, alleged that Khaitan was the brains behind the transfer of bribe money to India, and Sanjeev was known to alleged European middleman Carlo Gerosa.
After hearing them out, the magistrate said: “Given the seriousness of the allegations and the gravity of the matter, I am of the considered opinion that CBI custody is required for a fair probe”.
(With PTI inputs)