Antony: No question of arbitration in VVIP chopper case

Antony: No question of arbitration in VVIP chopper case

We will take a decision after they reply: Defence Minister

Dismissing the arbitration process filed by AgustaWestland in the VVIP chopper case,Defence Minister A K Antony Monday said there was “no question” of India joining the process,reiterating that a final show-cause notice has already been served to the Italian firm.

Making it clear that the government will not participate in the arbitration process that was moved by the firm on the grounds that payments for the Rs 3,546-crore deal have been frozen since February,Antony said a final decision on the matter will be taken after Tuesday when the firm gives its reply.

“There is no question. Our stand is clear that there is no issue of arbitration. We have already given them a show cause notice and they have not replied so far. Let them reply. We will take a decision after they reply,” the minister said.

The statement comes after the Italian firm took another step in the process by nominated former Supreme Court judge Justice B N Srikrishna for arbitration in the case. As reported earlier,the two divergent stands taken by the ministry and the firm on the contract is likely to drag the matter to civil court in the coming days.

Speaking on a range of issues,the Defence Minister also played down reports of a possible budget cut on arms purchases in the light of a recent statement by the Prime Minister to top military commanders that advised them to plan procurements with care. “This government gives topmost priority to defence forces and I am sure that defence will get special treatment,” Antony said.