Augusta Westland copter scam: Salman Khurshid defends govt. after BJP criticism
New Delhi, Feb. 13 : External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Wednesday defended the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticized it over the Augusta Westland deal, and questioned it for not showing interest in ordering an inquiry into the matter, saying what is lawfully required and lawfully justified is what will be done, what has been done and will continue to be done.
"There is no such thing. It's pro-active. There is such a thing as lawful. Whatever has to be done by law has to be done. I don't think that we should do anything that is done to please the opposition or because somebody puts pressure on us. What is lawfully required and lawfully justified is what will be done, what has been done and will continue to be done," he added.
Khurshid said 'if someone is probing it, then you let them probe'
"I mean should you have your own probe when someone else is probing who is probably better placed to probe because that's where the production takes place, that's where the offices are. And we have obviously remained in touch with them and expected that they would keep us posted and informed. So, at an appropriate stage when they give us the information that would be useful to use in this country, we will use it. What is the problem?" he asked.
The External Affairs Minister also assured the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of full government support in this case.
"The CBI will make its own investigation. The CBI requires any assistance from the Government of India directly or through courts, the CBI will ask for it and we will respond," he said.
Commenting on the chopper deal, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar yesterday said 'it is more interesting that the country, which is beneficiary in the deal, is investigating and taking action against their own people'.
"They have even arrested the chief of the company, but here is the Indian Government, which stands defrauded, and is not interested in investigating the matter at all," he said.
Defence Minister A K Antony earlier in the day said that the CBI has been asked to give an early report on its probe into alleged helicopter deal.
Antony, who was speaking to the media at the Asian Security Conference here, said corruption will not be tolerated in defence deal, and added that the government will take strict action against the guilty.
"I have no information," he added, when asked to comment on the alleged role of former Air Chief S P Tyagi in the VVIP chopper deal.
The arrest of Italian company chief in Milan prompted the government in India to order a CBI probe.
Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi, who was arrested on Tuesday in Rome, had been under investigation for months and had denied any wrongdoing in the deal for the sale of 12 Augusta Westland helicopters to India in 2010.
The said contract was signed in February 2010 for the purchase of 12 helicopters. In view of media reports, the Ministry of Defence through the Ministry of External Affairs had sought information from the Governments of Italy and UK. No specific inputs were, however, received substantiating the allegations.
The contract signed with M/s. Augusta Westland includes specific contractual provisions against bribery and the use of undue influence as well as an Integrity Pact.