Dragging erstwhile Congress government into helicopter deal case, former IAF chief SP Tyagi on Saturday blamed former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office for changing the operational requirements of choppers for Indian Air Force's VVIP squadron favouring AgustaWestland.
A Delhi court here sent former SP Tyagi and others to custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) till December 14 in the Rs 3,767-crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal case.
In the court, Tyagi claimed that the Prime Minister's Office under Manmohan Singh had suggested the changes in the height of the ceiling of the VVIP choppers, allegedly allowing Agusta Westland to bag the contract.
The counsel appearing for the former IAF chief claimed in the court that decision to procure VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a "collective" one and Prime Minister Office (PMO) was also a part of it.
"It was a collective decision and not his (Tyagi's) individual one. It was a collective decision of which PMO was also a part," senior counsel N Hariharan, appearing for Tyagi, told the court, adding, "The file moved through several levels but I am the only one who has been arrayed as accused."
Metropolitan Magistrate Sujit Saurabh allowed the CBI to quiz Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie Tyagi and a Delhi-based lawyer, Gautam Khaitan till December 14.
Tyagi and the others were sent to CBI for a four-day judicial custody. The 71-year-old former Air Force head had been questioned for over four hours by the CBI on Friday.
The first chief of any wing of the armed forces to be arrested in the country, the former IAF chief and the others were allegedly involved in irregularities in the procurement of 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters from Britain-based AgustaWestland.
Tyagi and others have been accused of bringing down the operational flying height ceiling from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres to help AgustaWestland bag the contract.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said Sunday that Manmohan Singh needs to give a clarification on the charges put up by Tyagi.
"The epicenter of the corruption during the UPA regime was the PMO office and 10 Janpath (Sonia Gandhi's residence). Today, S P Tyagi has categorically stated that all the changes in Augusta Westland chopper's specifications were made at the behest of the PMO office. Manmohan Singh has to explain and clarify on this charge as his office is under attack," BJP leader S. Prakash told ANI.
On January 1, 2014, India had scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of payment of kickbacks of Rs 450 crore by it for securing the deal.
On April 7, an Italian court had convicted two top executives of defence major Finmeccanica (AgustaWestland is its subsidiary) for paying kickbacks in the deal.