SC asks Chhattisgarh govt to produce Agusta chopper purchase file

SC asks Chhattisgarh govt to produce Agusta chopper purchase file

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Chhattisgarh government to place before it the original files relating to purchase of one Agusta helicopter for VIP use in 2006-2007.

The Centre, for its part, expressed concern over official documents being used for filing PILs without disclosing the sources.

Acting on a PIL by NGO 'Swaraj Abhiyan' and others, the top court asked the state government why a global tender was issued for purchasing only an Agusta chopper and how the recommendation of then state chief secretary to invite tenders from various companies was "overturned".

A bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and U U Lalit asked senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, representing the state government, to produce the files by November 23 as it was contended by petitioner's counsel Prashant Bhushan that a global tender was issued only for Agusta for purchase of a helicopter. Bids of others, like Bell and Eurocopter, were not considered at all.

The PIL has sought investigation into the alleged irregularities in the purchase of the helicopter and also foreign bank accounts purportedly linked to the son of Chief Minister Raman Singh.

Open secrets

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, sought the apex court's intervention, contending it was a matter of extreme concern for the government that various privileged documents, including confidential notes, which were outside the purview of the RTI, were being used to file PILs.

The bench said the court would consider this aspect when the top law officer contended disgruntled government employees were passing on documents which even the investigating agencies find difficult to protect. Such an act, including photocopying of those documents, was an offence punishable under the Information Technology Act.

"Certainly what you are saying is serious. We will consider it," the bench said.  

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