The Central Bureau of Investigation will soon record the statement of former Director, Intelligence Bureau and Governor of Andhra Pradesh E S L Narasimhan as witness in connection with allegations of bribery in purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from Ango-Italian firm AgustaWestland.
CBI sources said Narasimhan, along with then National Security Advisor M K Narayanan and then Special Protection Group chief B V Wanchoo, attended the March 1, 2005 meeting where the decision to reduce service ceiling -- maximum height at which a helicopter can perform optimally -- was taken, making AgustaWestland eligible for the deal.
Recently, the CBI team has quizzed Narayanan and Wanchoo as witnesses for its probe into allegations of bribery of Rs 360 crore in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal with AgustaWestland.
The sources said the need to record statements of Wanchoo and Narayanan was felt as both had participated in the meeting in 2005 that allowed key changes in the technical specifications of the chopper.
They said since Narasimhan was also present in the meeting, his statement is also crucial to get additional inputs about the reasons for reducing service ceiling. The CBI has alleged reduction of the service ceiling -- maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally--allowed the Britain-based firm to get into the fray as, otherwise, its helicopters were not even qualified for submission of bids.
The CBI had registered a case against former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi along with 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen in the case. The allegation against the former air chief was that he had reduced flying ceiling of the helicopter so that AgustaWestland was included in the bids. Tyagi has refuted the allegation against him.
The CBI claims the parameters regarding the height at which the helicopter can fly as well as the flight evaluation were changed in a manner that enabled AgustaWestland to clinch the deal vis-a-vis its competitor Sikorsky.