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Centre defends delay in probing VVIP chopper deal

February 14, 2013 18:08 IST

In the wake of charges of delay in conducting a probe in the VVIP chopper deal, the government on Thursday said an independent probe by the Enforcement Directorate was underway and investigations should be allowed to run their due course.

"This particular procurement process was initiated during the regime of the National Democratic Alliance. It culminated during the NDA government and it culminated during the United Progressive Alliance government. Therefore it has to be borne across two administrations. There are certain issues which have come out in the public and the government has already addressed them by ordering an enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said.

"When some of these revelations came out in the public sphere last year and (Defence Minister A K) Antony articulated it on Wednesday, the Enforcement Directorate was looking at it independently. Therefore there has been absolutely no foot dragging on the issue, as is being made out," he said.

Tewari, who was interacting with journalists at the Indian Women's Press Corps, also objected to attempts to drawing parallels between the Augusta Westland helicopter deal and the Bofors case.

"I think it is extremely dangerous and irresponsible to be drawing parallels through some other investigation. Let also not forget that in the February of 2004, the Delhi high court quashed the charges in the Bofors case. The NDA government was at the helm. The NDA government did not even exercise the remit of filing a special leave petition in the Supreme Court," he said.

"Rather than being sensational, rather than being extremely belligerent about it, let the investigations take place," he added.

Tewari said that ultimately every matter stands on its own fact and facts can only be unearthed or dug out through an investigative process.

"We have seen in the past that these are certain matters whose facts when they emerge, they were found to be legally tenable, they resulted in prosecution and as we speak, some of those prosecutions are in an advanced stage in a court of law," he said.

In certain other matters, it was found out that the facts did not bear themselves out, so the investigations were closed, he said.

"So, ultimately from a perceptional point of view, the people of this country have shown an intrinsic ability to sift facts from fiction. That's why I say let's allow the investigative process to play itself out. Let's see what comes out at the end of this process," he said.

In response to a question about the alleged links between a CBI prosecutor and a 2G scam accused, Tewari said the collusion between prosecutors and the accused is an ethical issue which concerns the legal fraternity as a whole.

He added that in the specific case, issues of illegal phone tapping and the right to privacy were also involved.

In response to another question regarding certain remarks made by Union minister Vayalar Ravi, Tewari said he had learnt from news flashes that the central minister had expressed his regret and it would be best to leave the matter there.

To a question related to reports about the reluctance of the coal ministry in sharing files with the CBI, he said that it was best if the coal ministry or the CBI answered these matters.

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