New Delhi, December 10 (Agencies): The chief of the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, has said that the arrest of the former Air Chief, S.P. Tyagi, in the AugustaWestland VVIP chopper deal on Saturday will dent the image of the Indian Air Force as a professional force, reports PTI.
In an unprecedented reaction to the arrest and remand of retired Air Chief Marshal Tyagi till December 14, ACM Raha said in Kolkata on Saturday: ” It is very unfortunate. It does dent our reputation as a professional force.”
“ But we believe in the rule of law. I am sure every Indian citizen believes in the rule of law and the due process is on,” he added.
“Whatever is the final verdict we will go by that”.
Raha refused to speak further on the issue, saying the matter is sub-judice.
Air Chief Marshal Tyagi is the first chief of any of the wings of the Indian armed forces to be arrested.
The former IAF chief and the others were allegedly involved in irregularities in the procurement of 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters from the UK-based company AgustaWestland
Earlier in the day, the Metropolitan Magistrate of Delhi put Tyagi in custody with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Rs 37,670 million scam.
Magistrate Sujit Saurabh allowed the CBI to quiz Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie Tyagi, and Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan, till December 14, IANS said.
The probe agency told the court that crucial information was collected from three countries – Italy, Switzerland and Mauritius – via letters rogatory and the accused are required to be confronted with it to unearth the larger conspiracy in the chopper deal case.
While seeking custody of the accused, the CBI told the court that regular meetings were taking place between senior officials of AgustaWestland and S.P. Tyagi with the help of Sanjeev Tyagi.
The CBI has alleged that a conspiracy was hatched to reduce the service ceiling of the helicopters from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres after which AgustaWestland became eligible to supply a dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties.
It told the court that the words “at least twin engine” were inserted in the amendment proposal in 2005 for procuring VVIP helicopters to bring AgustaWestland into the eligibility criteria, adding that the changes were made deliberately as AgustaWestland helicopters had three engines and a service ceiling of 4,500 metres
The former IAF chief’s Defense Counsel, senior advocate N. Hariharan, said that it was a collective decision to procure VVIP helicopters and not Tyagi’s personal one.
Denying the charges, he opposed the request for custodial interrogation, saying that the probe agency had not given any specific and vital point for seeking the remand of the accused. To this, the former IAF chief said he can give all details and was available whenever required and not running away.
The 71-year old Tyagi, who retired in 2007, was called for questioning at CBI Headquarters along with his cousin and Khaitan. They were taken into custody after nearly four hours of grilling, CBI sources said.
These are the first arrests in the case by CBI, three years after it registered a First Information Report to probe allegations in the aftermath of the appearance of details of the scam in Italy where prosecutors had leveled allegations of corruption in the deal against the chief of Finmeccanica, the parent company of AugustaWestland.
(The featured image at the top is that of the serving Chief of Staff of the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha)