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Chopper deal: CBI says it wants to quiz governors as witnesses

NEW DELHI: CBI has clarified to law ministry that it wants to question two governors M K Narayanan and B V Wanchoo of West Bengal and Goa respectively as “witnesses” in connection with its probe in the VVIP helicopter deal.

The law ministry, after initially denying permission to the CBI, recently asked the agency about its motive to question the two governors as they were enjoying constitutional immunity.

After having been denied the permission, the CBI had petitioned the President Pranab Mukherjee’s secretariat as it was the appointing authority for the governors.

While rejecting the plea of CBI, the law ministry had said the constitutional posts gave them immunity from prosecution under Article 361 of the Constitution.

But recently, the law Ministry again wrote a letter asking the agency to state its position of examining the two, official sources said.

In its reply, the CBI said it wanted to record statements of Narayanan, who was the then National security adviser, and Wanchoo, who was the then head of elite special protection group (SPG) guarding the Prime Minister.

The sources said the agency has made it clear that the two constitutional functionaries would be approached as witnesses for recording their statements in the case.

The CBI had sought permission to record their statement as part of its probe into alleged payment of Rs 360-crore bribe in the deal that was scrapped by the government last year.

While reasoning for recording of their statements, the CBI has said Wanchoo and Narayanan had participated in the meeting in 2005 that allowed key changes in the technical specifications.

The CBI claims that the parameters regarding the height at which the helicopters can fly as also the flight evaluation were changed in a manner that enabled AgustaWestland to clinch the deal vis a vis its competitor Sikorsky.


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