'We have taken all measures, followed all procedures': Antony on chopper deal

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 19, 2013 08:10 hrs

Reiterating that no mercy will be shown to anybody found guilty in the VVIP chopper deal, Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Tuesday said the government had followed all due procedures and had nothing to hide.

"We will follow the law, will not show any mercy to guilty," Antony told the media here. He also said that there was no difference of opinion about the steps to be followed between the Defence Ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs.

The Defence Ministry is making all efforts to find out the truth, from the Italian courts and other sources. It has also been stated that the Government is willing for a detailed discussion in the Parliament.

"We have taken all measures, followed all procedures. The government has nothing to hide. I will do my duty. I have nothing to hide, we have nothing to hide. We are prepared to discuss this in Parliament," he added.

Antony said the government is trying to get the truth from all sources in this case.

"We are trying to get details from the Italian court, we are trying to get the truth from all sources," he said.

He said the Defence Ministry would definitely take the Ministry of External Affairs support when needed in connection with the chopper deal.

"At the moment, the moment the MoD is handling it. Whenever needed, the MEA's support will be taken," said Antony.

"I am sad that in spite of all precautions if corruption had still happened then we will blacklist companies," he added.

Antony further said there is no political decision in defence procurement in India.

"We have made it clear to everybody," he added.

The Defence Minister said there is no issue with the Prime Minister's Office on the chopper deal.

"There is no issue with the PMO on the chopper deal, the government is acting together," he said.

He was commenting on the reports that the government is divided on whether to cancel the AgustaWestland chopper deal or not. According to media reports, the Prime Minister's Office had earlier expressed its is unhappiness with the proposal to cancel the chopper deal.

Antony had earlier last week said that strong action will be taken against those found guilty.

"Nobody will be spared whatever may be the consequences," he said.

According to reports, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had expressed his reservation on the defence ministry's plan to scrap the deal.

Khurshid, however, today said that he has not expressed any reservation over the Defence Ministry's move to scrap the Rs 3,546 crore VVIP chopper deal, and added that his comment was a sensible one.

A CBI team has left for Italy to probe the allegations of kickbacks in the deal.

The Ministry of Defence earlier on Saturday directed Joint Secretary A.K. Bal

to travel to Italy to gather as much evidence as possible relating to the allegations of corruption in the acquisition of 12 AW 101 VVIP helicopters for the Indian Air Force.

The Ministry of Defence has initiated action for the cancellation of contract for procurement of 12 AW101 helicopters for the use of VVIPs.

The copter scam has unfolded with the arrest of the head of a state-controlled Italian aerospace company.

AgustaWestland, the Italian firm, is presently at the centre of a controversy over allegations of paying kickbacks in the Rs 3600 crore VVIP chopper deal. (ANI)

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