PM gives Praful Patel clean chit in bribery case

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cleared Union Minister Praful Patel of allegations that he took a kickback when he was the civil aviation minister from a Canadian businessman for an Air India contract for supply of security equipment.

In a letter to Patel, the Prime Minister is understood to have told him that the External Affairs Ministry had been asked to convey to Canada that the contract was never executed as it was not found to be cost–effective.

Patel had described as “baseless and preposterous” the allegations by the India–born Canadian Nazir Karigar that a close associate of the minister was paid $2.50 lakh to get the contract for a computerised passenger face recognition biometrics system for Air India approved.

Following this, Patel had written to the Prime Minister urging him to direct Air India to forward all relevant information and documents of the tender to PMO or to any agency nominated by him for a probe.

Patel had wanted that the “factual position” be conveyed to the authorities in Canada in order to avoid any embarrassment to the government or to him personally. The Prime Minister said that the Civil Aviation Ministry has clarified that the relevant tender was not pursued by Air India as it was not cost–effective and would lower its yield.

The ministry further clarified that all such acquisitions were within the purview of the airline itself and were not required to be referred to it.

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