The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the CBI to furnish in two weeks details of its probe into a complaint alleging corruption by former civil aviation minister Praful Patel in several decisions involving Air India -from purchase of 111 aircraft costing about Rs 70,000 crore to giving up profitable routes to private airlines.
During hearing of a petition by NGO `Centre for Public Interest Litigation’, advocate Prashant Bhushan drew the court’s attention to an RTI reply by the authorities, indicating that the CBI was looking into it.
A bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justices R K Agrawal and Arun Mishra asked the CBI whether it was conducting any such probe. Once the agency’s counsel answered in the affirmative, the bench asked the CBI to furnish details of the probe and also indicate how it has looked into the concerns expressed by the petitioner on various deals.
The court had on September 21, 2012 issued notices to the Centre and AI on CPIL’s petition seeking a CBISIT probe into alleged irregularities, including purchase of aircraft for the national carrier and giving up of profitable routes to private airlines during Patel’s tenure. The petitioner had referred to several decisions, including the “massive“ purchase of 111 aircraft for the national carrier, additional hiring of aircraft on lease, giving up profitmaking routes in favour of private airlines and merger of AI and Indian Airlines. The NGO’s PIL was dismissed by the Delhi high court.
The HC had refused to pass any order on the NGO’s plea for a probe into AI’s fleet expansion programme through purchase of 111 planes on the grounds that the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament was already looking into it.