In a step that has moved the Defence Ministry closer to initiating action against Italian firm AgustaWestland that is at the centre of controversy for corruption allegations in the VVIP chopper deal,the Law Ministry and the Attorney General (AG) have given an opinion that there are adequate grounds to invoke the stringent integrity pact in the contract that would lead to its cancellation.
Sources in the Defence Ministry said while the CBI is speeding up its case on the deal,the matter was recently sent to the Law Ministry for reference and the opinion received makes it clear that enough evidence has been collected to apply the integrity pact that is aimed at penalising companies indulging in corrupt practices.
While a formal notice for the cancellation of the deal has not yet been issued by the ministry,sources said the step may not be very far as the CBI investigations are reaching a critical point and the AGs opinion is clear that there has been a breach of contractual obligations.
This comes after the Italian firm moved the legal process of arbitration against the freezing of the deal since February on corruption charges claiming that the ministrys decision to freeze payments was against the provisions of the contract.
As reported,the Defence Ministry has considered an outright cancellation of the contract on the grounds that the Italian firm adopted unfair practices. The ministry has a strong case given the strict clauses of the integrity pact that also put multiple safeguards in the contract.
The CBI has also picked up pace in its investigations into case in which a former Air Chief has been named as one of the accused,with the agency recently questioning a top retired Air Marshal of the IAF and other serving and retired officers too are expected to be questioned in coming days.