AgustaWestland: SC to hear petition against Sonia, Manmohan next week | india | Hindustan Times
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AgustaWestland: SC to hear petition against Sonia, Manmohan next week

india Updated: Apr 29, 2016 13:06 IST
AgustaWestland

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh were allegedly named in documents annexed to an Italian court that was hearing a trial in the chopper deal. AgustaWestland (AW) Ltd, a subsidiary of Italian defence major Finmeccania, allegedly paid bribes to secure the 2010 deal with India.(PTI Photo)

The Supreme Court on Thursday said it would hear a PIL seeking registration of FIRs against Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh among others in the AgustaWestland chopper case next week.

The three Congress leaders were named in documents annexed to an Italian court that was hearing a trial in the chopper deal made with AgustaWestland (AW) Ltd, a subsidiary of Italian defence major Finmeccania.

A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and justices R Banumathi and UU Lalit ordered listing of the petition when advocate M L Sharma said it was an urgent matter that needed to be heard at the earliest.

In 2010, India signed a Rs 3600 crore deal with AgustaWestland for 12 AW101 choppers meant for VVIPs, including the prime minister. The deal was scrapped in 2014.

The Central Bureau of Investigation in 2013 registered a case in connection with alleged bribes paid by the firm to Indians to clinch the deal for 12 helicopters to ferry VVIPs including the president and prime minister.

Finmeccania’s top executives were investigated for corruption in Italy.

The Italian court of Appeals reportedly cited handwritten references to Gandhi, her political secretary Ahmed Patel and former Air Chief S P Tyagi by a middleman in a judgement that convicted the helicopter company’s chief executive.

The court also alleged that the company hired middlemen to bribe decision-makers in India to swing the deal in AW’s favour.

Read more | Chopper deal row: Govt to seek CBI report, blacklist AgustaWestland

The controversy has sparked pitched battles in the Parliament with the ruling BJP cornering the opposition and Sonia Gandhi over the scam.

Gandhi accused the NDA of “character assassination” in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, claiming the allegations as false.

“What are they doing? Inquiry is there, why don’t they complete it? Complete it as soon as possible, impartially.”

As the BJP attempted to put Congress on the boil, the opposition hit back questioning why the Narendra Modi-led government had scrapped the process to blacklist AW Ltd.

Read more | Barbs fly thick and fast over VVIP chopper deal as Sonia takes on BJP