The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed three petitions seeking a probe into alleged corruption in the purchase of an AgustaWestland chopper by Chhattisgarh government for VIP use in 2007. The court said there was no clear evidence to show that any loss was caused to the exchequer by way of paying a commission to the dealer.
“We broadly find that no case is made out for interference by this court for issuing a direction, as sought, in absence of an allegation of extraneous consideration being substantiated,” a bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit said while dismissing the petitions.
The petitions were filed by Swaraj Abhiyan, Leader of Opposition in Chhattisgarh Assembly T S Singhdeo, and the publisher of a journal. One of the petitions sought inquiry into helicopter purchase deals of the governments of Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Punjab and Rajasthan, besides Chhattisgarh.
In the Chhattisgarh deal, the petitioners had questioned the purchase of “A-109 power E-helicopter” by the Raman Singh government for VIP use, as also into bank accounts in the British Virgin Islands with alleged links to the CM’s son, Abhishek Singh.
The petitioners alleged that kickbacks were paid to Abhishek in the deal. Rejecting this, the court said, “There is no material to prima facie hold that beneficiary of the transaction was Abhishek Singh. We do not consider it necessary to go into the allegation of mere procedural irregularities.”
The order said the state government was “entitled to make a choice to purchase the helicopter in question”, and that there is “nothing on record to show that the helicopter could have been procured for a lesser price”.
The court observed, “No person claiming to give a better deal has come forward. Thus, in absence of clear evidence that loss was caused to public exchequer by way of commission payment to Sharp Ocean Investments Limited, which was only a route to send the payment to the son of the Chief Minister, interference by this court is not called for…”