The Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI has reportedly asked the Law Ministry if it can question West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan and Goa Governor BV Wanchoo in its investigation into alleged kickbacks in the Rs. 3600-crore VVIP helicopter deal.
The government had earlier this month terminated the deal for 12 helicopters alleging that AgustaWestland, the British subsidiary of an Italian company contracted to supply the helicopters for use by the President, Prime Minister and other VIPs had breached an integrity pact by allegedly paying bribes to Indian officials.
CBI sources said Mr. Narayanan, who was then the National Security Adviser or NSA and Mr. Wanchoo as head of the elite Special Protection Group or SPG, were part of meetings where specifications for the helicopters were changed. The change in “service ceiling” (or the altitude at which a helicopter can fly) from the 6000 metres suggested Air Head Quarters to 4500 metres had allowed AugustaWestland to enter the race.
So far the CBI has named former Air Chief SP Tyagi, his cousins and several others in its First Information Report or FIR.
It has now reportedly written to the Law Ministry and attached documents to show that Mr. Narayanan and Mr. Wanchoo were part of the team of senior officials who cleared the changes.
As Governors, Mr. Narayanan and Mr. Wanchoo have legal immunity and the CBI will need the President’s assent to question them. However, if the law ministry clears the CBI request, it might not need to seek the President’s nod.