Nobody will be spared, says Antony

There is increasing pressure on the govt to cancel the deal in the wake of corruption charges

As the VVIP helicopter scam broke in the face of Mr Clean A K Antony, the defence minister said the CBI was asked to conduct “an early enquiry” and the ministry would act even on the basis of a preliminary report from the probe agency.

“We cannot set a time line. But we asked the CBI for an early enquiry. We will wait at least for a preliminary report and act on that,” he told reporters on Wednesday after inaugurating a conference at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses here.

The CBI only has a few months to act as the next batch of three AW101 helicopters — used in the latest James Bond flick Skyfall — is scheduled to arrive by June.

There is increasing political pressure on the government to cancel the deal in the wake of corruption charges.

Antony said the government could scrap the entire deal and get back the money if CBI finds evidences of wrongdoing.

 “We can blacklist the company and cancel the deal as the vendor signed an integrity pact,” he said.

Asked about the involvement of former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi, Antony said nobody would be spared and no option would be closed. “The moment we get a report from the CBI, whoever is found guilty — Indian or foreigner — we will take the strongest action against them. 

They have to pay the price for the lapses. Nobody will be spared. But unless I have some information, I cannot take names,” he said.

The minister is banking his hopes on the integrity pact, which the defence ministry signs with any military contracts worth more than Rs 100 crore and offset contracts higher than Rs 300 crore.

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