JPC to probe chopper deal, Oppn disapproves

JPC to probe chopper deal, Oppn disapproves

The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday approved a UPA government proposal to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate allegations that a Rs 360-crore kickback was paid for purchasing 12 VVIP helicopters from a UK-based company.

Several opposition parties led by the BJP walked out of the House opposing the
decision.

Describing the government move as diversionary tactics, the opposition said it would be an exercise in futility because JPCs “do not have legal powers” to identify bribe takers who allegedly accepted money to swing the Rs-3,600 crore deal in favour of Agusta Westland, a UK-based subsidiary of Italian aerospace major Finmeccanica, which is under scanner.

“Coercive criminal investigation processes are required to know the names of bribe takers. How would MPs know If you go on to create the JPC? Then my suspicion is you (the government) don't want to know the name,” Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley (BJP) said before staging a walking out. The JD (U), Trinamool, CPI and AGP too walked out.

Jaitley dared the government to set up a JPC under the chairmanship of an opposition leader, which received prompt support from the JD(U).
But notwithstanding the opposition, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath moved a resolution to form a 30-member joint parliamentary committee in which 10 members will be from the Rajya Sabha and 20 from the Lok Sabha.

Nath said Renuka Chowdhury, Birender Singh and JD Seelam (all from the Congress), Yogendra Trivedi (NCP), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), Satish Chandra Misra (BSP) and T K Rangarajan (CPM) from the Upper House who would be members of the JPC. Three members will have to be nominated by the BJP and its allies in the NDA.

“The JPC will monitor what the CBI is doing and speed up the investigation. I don't know why the NDA is running away. The BJP and NDA allies had earlier said they wanted a JPC as they do not trust a CBI probe (on 2G spectrum scam) and wasted a session,” Nath said.

Defence Minister A K Antony, too, said the government was willing for a probe by a JPC with members from all parties in addition to ongoing investigation.
Both ministers skirted suggestion of the Supreme Court monitoring the CBI investigation into the chopper scam.

Jaitley and his party colleagues Prakash Javadekar, Chandan Mitra and Ravi Shankar Prasad raised queries on the irregularities committed in the deal. But Antony, while skipping most of these questions, claimed the Defence Ministry did it best to find out the truth but its efforts were stonewalled in Italy and the UK.

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